Disaster recovery: Man rebuilds life after tornado destroys home

A tornado swept through Glenn Carr's home that he'd lived in for decades in April / Evan Watson (WGXA)

DODGE COUNTY, Ga. –-As a National Weather Service confirmed tornado ripped through Dodge County on April 5, Glenn Carr heard a snap and rushed to look out his front window.

“I looked toward the road and I lifted my hands and God just started speaking through me,” Carr said. “As I did that I saw the tree as it began to fall toward the house.”

Carr fell to the floor just feet from the tree. The tree fell through the front and out the back of the house, crushing everything in its path. Carr said he barely survived and had no idea what his future would hold.

“What will I be able to do next?" Carr asked just hours after losing his home. "I don’t have money to do anything next."

Carr had lived in that home since 1958. Almost 60 years of history that he will likely never see again.

“There was no insurance on that house either, and I don’t have any relatives so I have nowhere to go," Carr said.

Carr received immediate emergency disaster relief from the Red Cross in the form of a prepaid card with a few hundred dollars loaded on it. The night of losing his home Carr stayed in a local hotel, but he said he quickly realized this card – now his main source of income – wouldn’t last long, so he made a tough choice.

“The following night, Thursday night, I slept in my car right there at the house,” he said.

Carr’s plan was to save the money and use it elsewhere. His wallet was still trapped under the tree. Carr was going to sleep in his car on Friday night as well until a second cousin heard what he was doing and found Carr next to what was left of his house.

“He said, 'You are not staying in that car tonight,'” Carr said. “[My second cousin] said, ‘I have a camper behind my house. Get in the car, you’re going with me and you’re staying in that camper.’”

Carr’s second cousin wasn’t the only person to offer help and support. In the two weeks after he lost his home, Glenn Carr had to buy more cellphone minutes five separate times. People kept calling to offer condolences and to check on Carr. Some people even donated money to Carr, including his high school teacher.

“I’m so surprised to see all of these people coming out of the woodwork,” Carr said two weeks after the tree fell on his house. “I’m so blessed to know that people care as much as they have and as much as they do.”

In the weeks after, Carr stayed in his second cousin’s hot RV-style camper, and the situation of his broken home only got worse.

The tree was too big to move. Removing it requires heavy machinery – more than a chainsaw or something local neighbors might have. Plus, the tree was actually the state’s responsibility.

Kyle Collins with the Georgia Department of Transportation confirms that the tree was located on the state right-of-way before it fell. A claim was submitted to the Georgia Department of Administrative Services (DOAS). Collins said the tree has not been removed due to “safety and liability concerns” and DOAS is still trying to “determine the remedy.”

Meanwhile, with each rain, everything Glenn Carr had collected over 50 years slowly fell apart. This included his ID, which was somewhere under that tree. Carr needed new identification to even apply for an apartment.

More than a month after he lost his home, Carr finally got the paperwork and moved into an Eastman Gardens apartment he now calls his own.

“I mean we all, at some point in our lives, go through some kind of a struggle,” Carr said. “Well I’ve been through many of them in my life and I sit here rejoicing over what I see God doing every day in my life since that tree fell.”

Finally, Carr said he feels like he has his life back.

“Oh my goodness,” he said. “You think about where you just were and where you are right this minute.”

Adding he feels blessed from a higher power.

“How can I say this, He spared my life,” Carr said.

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