By Jason A. Smith
Volunteers from Henry County will head south to Spalding County Saturday, to help their neighbors in the wake of this week's deadly tornadoes.
The group will meet at 9 a.m., on School Road near U.S. Highway 19/41 in the Sunnyside area, according to Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis.
"Knowing that our citizens are always willing to lend their hand to a neighbor in need, I put it out on Facebook to see if folks could volunteer some time Saturday," said Mathis. "The volunteers range from off-duty firefighters, to church youth groups, to families. It's just regular citizens who want to help a neighbor in need."
Mathis said Henry's relief effort was sparked by a telephone conversation she had Thursday with Spalding County Commission Chairman Eddie Freeman. "He said the damage was massive, and they couldn't respond to all the areas as quickly as they wanted to," said Mathis.
The tornado entered the southwest corner of Spalding County around midnight Wednesday, heading northeast, said Freeman in an interview with the Henry Daily Herald Friday.
Freeman described the destruction from the storm as "tremendous," and said an elderly man and his caregiver perished in the storm.
"We have 400 homes that are either, damaged or destroyed, and 14 businesses that are damaged or destroyed," said Freeman.
He added that firefighters from Clayton County came to Spalding to provide assistance, in the wake of the tornado.
Freeman expressed his appreciation for the willingness of Henry residents to help his community get back on its feet.
"It will certainly take a burden off of us, to make sure we get all the debris cleaned up," he said.
Mathis said around 40 Henry residents had signed on, as of Thursday afternoon, to help with the relief efforts.
"According to Spalding County Public Works, we will be helping to cut trees off houses and clear debris from around people's homes," she said. "A church group that could not make the Saturday clean-up, will be going down on Sunday.
"Others," she said, "have asked about volunteering mid-week as well. You'll probably see a lot of individual efforts continue, for weeks to come."
Mathis said the Henry community's collective interest in the volunteer project is a testament to its spirit of compassion for those in need.
"It certainly demonstrates the love and generosity this community has for people who are hurting," she said. "We have a wonderful community."