Today’s Morning Buzz is brought to you by Ashley Copeland, Communications Manager for the City of Newnan, GA.
What I’m Watching: Don’t laugh, but I’m behind on 90-Day Fiance, so I’ve been DVRing the current season, and it’s quite entertaining after a long day of work. It’s too funny not to look away!
What I’m Reading: Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson. As always, I’m always up for a good communication book – and upping my communication skills!
What I’m Listening To: Office Ladies Podcast with Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey. I’m a huge fan of the Office and have enjoyed listening to them talk about stories from their time on the show and hearing from other cast members.
We’ve heard the words – time heals all wounds. But Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy said it best when she said, “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue, and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
Today, this quote has an entirely new outlook and meaning to me – after experiencing a life, career-changing experience during the early morning of Friday, March 26, 2021.
I could play the night back in my mind. It was late, and I had just gotten off the phone with my mom to say goodnight, turned off my television, and headed to bed for some rest before a busy Friday. The week had already been busy, leading up to the day, and that weekend was desperately anticipated.
My head hit the pillow at midnight, and then – my work cell phone dings.
While I am no stranger to non-stop calls, texts, and emails – especially when it is news media. This is nothing new for me, it’s the norm for me in my role with the city.
But instead of expecting it to be the standard media inquiry call, it was a text from a colleague.
The text read: “Stay safe in the storm headed your way!”
I replied: “Thanks! I’m OK for now. The noise outside just startled me a bit.”
It did – the sounds of the wind intensified, it was pitch black outside, and then suddenly there was no sound – just darkness and quiet.
My colleague texted back: “Newnan is about to get slammed.” “Tornado on the ground near downtown! Get ready for the phone calls.”
I immediately turn on the TV to the local news station to see the meteorologist pointing on the map to Newnan, begging and pleading with viewers in the area of Newnan to take cover and shelter immediately. No one anticipated the storm being this bad, nor did we think it would have this much of an impact based on models and alerts from our county’s EMA team.
Historically, this tornado marked the 10th to touch down in the state of Georgia since 1950. The last was in 2011. It was unexpected.
At 12:17 am on Friday, March 26, 2021, our community was shaken when a violent EF-4 tornado struck our city and county –tracking a 38-mile path of destruction and an 85 centerline mile of roads affected, leaving immense damage to several areas of our city, county and downtown area. Most of the damage consisted of homes with roofs partially ripped off, doors ripped off their hinges, and trees sprawled across roads and through buildings, including significant damage to Newnan High School and its surrounding athletic field, causing broken windows, doors, and roof and structure damage.
While I was spared and blessed not to have any damage to my home – my heart ached for those in our city and county who experienced damage or significant loss to their homes.
It all hit me when daylight broke, and I was hitting the ground running with city and county officials to coordinate press conferences, media briefings, touring the damaged areas while continuing to work hard to be of service to our residents and those impacted.
Those days were some of the most emotional, heartbreaking, inspiring, and grateful moments over the course of days, weeks, months, and even years to come.
Although, hearing and seeing the extent of the damage was a harsh reality.
Seeing damage on a street where there’s one house that was completely damaged, while a house next door was in perfect shape – it was devastating, to say the least. Also, to know that we came out of the storm with one fatality and no injuries still blows my mind to this day.
Our community is blessed and grateful.
Immediately following the tornado, we were grateful to receive an outpouring response of support from folks locally and all over the state, region, and even nationwide who saw what our community was going through and wanted to help.
Like many other cities that have experienced hard times, our city created a moniker to get us all through this time: #NewnanStrong.
Newnan is in fact, #NewnanStrong.
I’m incredibly proud of all of the men and women who work and serve our city and how they came together to make it happen for our community when hard times hit close to home.
Today, Newnan stands a little taller and stronger thanks to the love and support from those near and far who stepped in to be the scar to the “wounded tissue” that our city experienced over these past couple of months.
We’re protecting our sanity, and each day those that have reached out with their support and are helping us to lessen the pain one day at a time as we continue to build back our home. It’s a place that so many love and are proud to call home.
We are #NewnanStrong.