Bainbridge residents tell their stories of enduring Hurricane Michael

Published 5:36 pm Thursday, October 11, 2018

David Donalson looked out the window of his house on Broughton Street when Hurricane Michael began to churn through Bainbridge and shrugged.

A few tree limbs and branches? Not a big deal.

Then the winds got more constant, the rain heavier and the gusts stronger. Donalson looked at his girlfriend and 5-day-old son and began to worry. Later in the evening, he heard a loud crash on his roof.

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“We were all inside and the whole house shook,” said Donalson. “I told (my girlfriend) to get the baby and get by the chimney. I came out here and looked and there was the tree.”

It had fallen through their roof. But there was nothing they could do about it at that point.

“We rode it out,” said Donalson. “There wasn’t anything we could do. The baby slept through it the whole time. I ain’t gonna to lie, I was praying the whole time. He can take me, but don’t take my baby.”

Donalson’s neighbor, John Thomas, tried to open his door to see what the noise was. Branches were blowing into his house, and he had to shut the door to keep himself safe. When the storm had passed, he wasn’t able to open it. Branches and limbs had built up on the other side.

“Every time a tree limb hit this house it started shaking,” said Thomas. “I said if another tree falls, I am going somewhere. I don’t know where, but I am getting out of here.”

Jodi Brown was a little luckier in her home on Academy Street. Two city oaks fell on either side of her house, one grazing the side of her roof. She’s not one to stand by windows during a storm, she said, but Hurricane Michael was an exception.

“I had to watch, it was just fascinating,” said Brown. “It was terrifying. I know how lucky I am.”

Her neighbors have cracked windows, but Brown said the damaged corner of her roof was all she could find.

“It’s miraculous,” said Brown.

Academy Street was in shambles, like the rest of Bainbridge. Huge pines are snapped in half. Oak trees are uprooted and tilting out of the earth. If power lines aren’t tangled in a mess of limbs, they’re dangling in the middle of the street.

Just down the road on Evans Street, Charles White stood in his yard, gazing at a massive tree that has crashed across the street, blocking all passage. He spent the morning warning those passing through of the power lines mixed in with the branches, and redirecting cars who thought they might be able to pass the huge roadblock.

“This was scary,” said White. “Most people were standing in their doorways for hours, just watching.”

White knew a huge gust was about to whip through when he heard snapping, crunching and shattering noises rapidly approaching him from the east. When one of them caught the tree that fell in the road, the noise got his attention.

“This one, it blew out and sounded like a bomb going off,” said White. “It was constant. For hours it just sounded like a train. It never gave up. Just a constant freight train sound.”