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Storm causes damage around county

A severe thunderstorm packing strong winds and vivid lightening caused considerable damages at Thomson High School last Friday afternoon.

Elsewhere in the same area, there were some structural damages to some of the units at the Thomson Housing Authority, as well as slight damage at Partners for Success. Shingles were blown off some of the housing units, according to Kelly Evans, executive director of the local housing authority.

The storm was responsible for dumping 3 1/2 inches of rain in many portions of McDuffie County.

Another severe storm brought havoc to Thomson and surrounding areas on Monday. That storm produced 2 inches of rain within a half hour. It also caused flooding on city streets, as well as flooding conditions in at least one neighborhood -- an area off Forrest Clary Drive.

The water got so high in a city ditch that it began to spill over into the yard of a local woman, who was forced to flee her home and stay with relatives for the night because of the dangers the flood waters presented.

A small white house was completed surrounded by high waters down the street. The water got so high in that yard that it made its way into two parked cars.

The storm last Friday left scattered damages around Thomson High School.

One of those areas included the Thomson Housing Authority.

"We had some limbs blown down from trees and things like that," Mrs. Evans said. "It could have been much worse."

At Partners for Success, Miriam Smith said the sign out front was blown off and into the parking lot of the nearby middle school. The roof also was blown off the well.

Also, some computer equipment and telephone lines were knocked out at WTHO fm and WTWA am radio stations in Thomson.

In addition, the girls' softball field at the high school was damaged as was a car in the parking lot of the school after winds broke off large tree limbs.

No one was injured, even though dozens of football players and coaches, as well as some administrators and others were inside the school building when the storm struck. The football players and coaches were there preparing for their pre-game meal before the scrimmage game against the Lincoln County Red Devils.

A girls' softball team from Thomson-McDuffie Middle School, meanwhile, were forced to hunker down in a dugout during the midst of the storm. They had been underneath the Terry Holder Batting Cage when the storm passed through shortly after 3:30 p.m.

"We were very fortunate," Thomson High School Principal Rudy Falana said. "It could have been much worse."

Mr. Falana said he got up on the rooftop of the school and was able to get an assessment of the type of damages the school sustained.

"We had some classroom damages due to water leaks from the roof," Mr. Falana said. "We also had some exhaust fans blown off the roof."

The roof of a large porch at the school's vocational building was completely blown off. Pieces of it were found in the rear of the school near the green house and underneath a nearby walkway that leads to the lunchroom.

Damage estimates were not available Monday, according to McDuffie County School Superintendent Jim LeBrun.

"We don't have a total value yet, but a lot of the repairs we've been doing ourselves," Mr. LeBrun said. "Some people with Two State (Construction Company of Thomson) came in and helped us with the roof repairs."

He pointed out that the damages should be covered by property insurance.

The school superintendent explained that a couple of weeks ago, lightening struck the Central School Board Offices, knocking out phone and computer services.

"I'm just glad nobody got hurt," Mr. LeBrun said. "We can fix the property."

Maintenance workers with the school system and contract workers have been busy repairing the roof in time for the first day of school today (Thursday), Mr. LeBrun said.

"We had some debris that blew across the roof and punctured the roof in several locations," he said, noting there was some ceiling damages.

The storm "pretty much destroyed the outfield fence, particularly left field," Mr. LeBrun added. "We'll start work on that next."

The season home opener, which had been slated for Wednesday against Washington-Wilkes, was actually played in Washington because the Thomson field wasn't playable.

The only other damage received on the campus of a local school was at Thomson-McDuffie Middle School, where the flag pole was slightly twisted, Mr. LeBrun said.

Web posted on Thursday, August 19, 2010

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