WEST POINT, Ga. (WRBL) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp spent more than an hour on the ground Monday afternoon surveying the tornado damage just outside West Point.
The governor flew in on a state helicopter from Atlanta and got to see multiple damaged sites in Troup County from the sky.
“You just never know when these storms are going to pop up,” Kemp said in a one-on-one interview with WRBL. “Thankfully, we had a little extra notice. We knew this storm was moving through, but you never know when something is going to develop into a tornado. So, we are very lucky it was the time of day it was. And also that we got out with no fatalities. Just keep praying.”
Kemp was joined by his wife, Marty, and James C. Stallings, the state’s Director of Homeland Security.
The governor said that the tornado that struck West Point Road was an EF3 with winds up to 140 mph. When it hit several miles away on Shoemaker Road, it was downgraded to an EF2, according to the governor.
About 100 homes, businesses and churches were damaged on West Point Road, about two miles east of downtown. Up to 40 of those will be a total loss, the governor said.
Stallings said impacted residents need to keep their guard up.
“We are asking for the public to stay clear of the damaged areas and roadways in order for us to respond,” Stallings said. “Patience is going to be the watchword. As you have seen this devastation, I know folks are going to want to get back to their homes and find their items that they have lost and see the destruction. But at the same time, with these power companies out here there are a lot of live wires. There are gas mains that still need to be protected.
The governor had been scheduled to visit West Point and Milledgeville in middle Georgia today. The weather forced him to focus on Troup County. A spokesperson says he plans to go to Baldwin County on Tuesday.