2022 Blows In
Storm Batters Fire Station
Winds ravaged the Vidalia Fire Department Station 1 on Aimwell Road Sunday night, leaving the station damaged and unusable. Lieutenant Robert Phelps was resting in the station’s bedroom when he began to hear rain falling outside. Shortly after the rain began, Phelps heard glass break and went to see what was occurring.
“I called Captain Matt Ragen to tell him about what I was hearing as I walked to the bay, and that’s when everything began to happen,” Phelps recounted. “The winds hit hard, the ceiling fell out, and everything just became chaos. From there, it was just hold on and enjoy the ride.” continued from page
He stated the intensity of the storm that caused the damage lasted around two and a half minutes. Prior to this intensity, Phelps heard what he described as a “very loud whistling sound.” The fire station sustained heavy damage as the bay doors were mangled or torn off, the American Flag outside was shredded, and the ceiling caved in. During the commotion, one of the station’s trash cans was blown into the side of a car passing by on the road in front of the station. “Honestly, I didn’t really look at the damage to the fire station at first because I was focused on checking on the individuals in the car to make sure they were OK,” Phelps said. “Once I saw they were fine, I realized what had happened to the station and I was very shocked.” Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes commented on the destructive event. “The storm definitely hit the station hard. The west facing doors were blown off their tracks and the glass was shattered out of them. The front east-facing door had similar damage. Glass covered the floor of the station, and the ceiling near the front of the building was destroyed.”
He added, “The roof above one bedroom was blown off, which caused the bedroom to be flooded by several inches of rain. Even the fire truck was moved approximately five feet from its original spot by the force of the storm.”
He continued, “While the damage of the fire station is intense, I am truly grateful no one was hurt, especially Lieutenant Phelps, who was in the station during this event.”
Altamaha EMC reported a massive power outage across Toombs and Montgomery counties during the Sunday night storm. Crews worked diligently to restore power throughout Monday. Altamaha EMC Communications Director Tammye Vaughn reported over 5,000 customers experienced power outages.
EMA Reports According to Montgomery and Wheeler County Emergency Management Agencies, the counties received minimal damage from the storms. Both County EMA Directors said that the only damage reported throughout their areas was downed trees and displaced limbs from strong winds. According to Toombs County EMA Director Lynn Moore, not only was the Vidalia Fire Department Station 1 damaged by the high winds, but roof damage also occurred on two houses adjacent to each other in the same area as the fire department.
Moore explained the National Weather Service had been contacted to investigate the nature of the storm in Vidalia. The Service has received photographs of the damage to survey and determine whether the cause of this destruction was a tornado or other weather phenomenon, but no decision has been reached yet.