How LaGrange has moved on from a disaster

Published 9:55 am Saturday, January 13, 2024

Jan. 12, 2023, is a day that many will never forget in Troup County.

At one point that afternoon, for roughly half an hour, two tornado warnings were issued simultaneously and two cyclones were on the ground at the same time. Both were later classified as EF-2 tornadoes, one in the Southeast portion of the county, one in the northern part.

More than 100 homes in the city of LaGrange received some type of damage, leaving many in our community picking up debris, calling insurance companies and trying to overcome the unexpected fury of Mother Nature. Some of the worst damage was seen in the Lexington Park community. 

LaGrange resident Scott Ferguson said his home received significant damage that ranged all the way from the roof to the kitchen. 

“The back roof was taken off the back porch, the windows in the back were all blown out, there was damage to the kitchen, and in the guest room upstairs, another window was blown out,” Ferguson said. “So we were basically redoing the whole inside of the house and all the sheetrock and drywall had to come down along with old insulation to build a new roof. We practically got a new house out of it.”

Fortunately, the Ferguson family had a place nearby where they could live in the meantime. 

“We actually stayed with my mother-in-law who lives just down the street,” Ferguson said. “Her house was untouched. We were provided with the option to stay at a hotel through our insurance, so they actually gave us the money for housing expenses instead.”

LaGrange resident Alejabra Sosa remained in her home with her mother as her house was under repair. Sosa and her mother luckily missed the storm as they were away from their home at the time, eating dinner. 

“All the siding had to be replaced because there were holes and the gutter also had to be replaced. Thank goodness the roof was still here,” Sosa said. “We started getting it fixed, I think around February or March, and the insurance company worked with us, but we did not recieve any housing accommodations.” 

While many residents suffered physical damage to their homes, some residents were affected psychologically with experiences that they will never forget.

The psychological effects ring true for Carlos Macías, along with his wife and daughter, who were still in their home as the tornado tore through Lexington Park, barely missing their house a block away.  

“Last year, the tornado passed through really near to our house — it was just like one block away. Me, my wife, and daughter were inside the house,” Macías said. “We heard a big noise and went into the shelter inside the house, and when we came out, we saw was one of the big trees nearby the house completely pulled down. So thank God nothing happened to the house or my family, but I know, on that area, on the north side, you can see houses are still rebuilding today,” Macias said. 

Amidst the chaos of the storm, local residents banded together to rebuild. Many locals participated in distributing necessities to those who had little access to them.

“We as a community were all together on this one,” Macías said. “If anyone had any kind of difficulties to get supplies like groceries or something, we made sure to help to give them what they needed.”