Sophomore Lorna Lyles recalls being seated in the hallway with classmates when she heard a teacher yell, “Get down,” as the tornado passed nearby.
Lyles explained they covered their heads for roughly five minutes, but nothing happened, and they returned to class.
The realization of how close the tornado actually came to the schools became apparent when she saw the devastation.
“We didn’t know how close it came to us until we drove through and saw,” said Lyles. “I have grown up in the Farmville and Sonoraville communities so it was sad to see some places I remember growing up, completely gone.”
The shock did not stop Lyles from feeling like she needed to do something to help. The same feelings were evident in the approximately 20-25 volunteers who became involved with Lyles through online social media.
“My friend and I tweeted that we wanted to help and within two hours so many people got involved,” said Lyles. People including teachers from Sonoraville and even principal Bruce Potts.
Sonoraville High School has since become the unofficial donation hub in the community.
Also giving back is the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce who is donating the food from its annual banquet to those who lost their homes. The event was scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m., however many members involved are participating in community clean up efforts.
“With so many in our county in immediate, dire need and so many important community partners tied to the banquet, it seems more appropriate to donate the food to those who need meals and free those professionals to do what they do best: make Gordon County a better place to live, work and play,” said Joni Harbin, with the chamber.
More than 500 volunteers so far have used Sonoraville High School as a gathering place before going out to help with cleanup efforts.
Lyles and her team gathered at Sonoraville High School at approximately 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning and assisted with minor clean up efforts in the Stonemill subdivision, where much of the damage from the tornado occurred.
Lyles explained major cleanup such as tree removal would not be allowed until insurance processes had been completed, which Lyles was told could take up to three days.
The Stonemill community is open only to homeowners, according to Lyles, who says a friend with the clean up group lived in the neighborhood and was able to get them in.
Lyles says she hopes to be able to go back to continue to help clean up.
Other places available for volunteer opportunities are Crane Eater Church of God, located on Red Bud Rd. Donations will be available for those displaced by the tornado. Donations can be taken to the church from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. for the next few days. Sonoraville High School students were out of school Thursday and Friday as power outages and impassable roads made transportation dangerous for students.