Farms sustain damage from Jan. 12 tornadoes
By Jay Stone, Georgia Farm Bureau
A series of Jan. 12 thunderstorms produced numerous tornadoes across the southern states, leaving at least nine people dead and a wide swath of damage to homes, businesses and property, including farms.
The National Weather Service confirmed a dozen tornadoes touched down in Georgia on Jan. 12, ravaging parts of Butts, Cobb, Henry, Jasper, McDuffie, Meriwether, Newton, Pike, Spalding and Warren counties
Multiple private farms and the UGA Griffin campus sustained damage to agricultural assets.
On Andy Garland’s family farm in southern Henry County, an 80-foot by 40-foot barn lost about half of its tin roofing, leaving equipment exposed. The barn is a converted poultry house that the family uses to store equipment, work inside and have family gatherings.
Garland said this was the third time this barn has lost roofing from strong winds since the family has farmed there.
“I’ve got tarps over my baler. All my tractors are in there,” Garland said. “It’s not just a building. There’s a lot of history in that building.”
In Meriwether County, cattleman Darrell McCoy lost a mile of fencing, had damage to his barn, had one steer killed and lost a stand of timber. McCoy, who owns Oak Hill Cattle, estimated his total damage at $750,000.
“It definitely could have been worse, because it could easily have moved probably 25 feet and it would have taken my entire house out,” McCoy said. “Or it could have went the other way and would have took our hay barn out that had just been finished this year.”
There were reports of pastured poultry operations in Newton County that were damaged by the storms.
At UGA Griffin, multiple greenhouses and other farm buildings were damaged, and the campus lost numerous large oak trees. Several campus buildings were damaged by falling trees, and the campus was closed for several days while cleanup work was being done.