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'Pure and true destruction': Griffin and Spalding County cleaning up after devastating storms

Joe Taylor and Joshua Irvin are convinced a higher power saved them from something much worse.

GRIFFIN, Ga. — Friday, many in Griffin and Spalding County got their first look outside after devastating storms ripped through the town.

Severe weather pummeled Central Georgia and surrounding areas for hours Thursday. Griffin saw some of the worst of it. The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-3 tornado came through the town.

"This is just destruction, like pure and true destruction on literally just one city. Like literally just Griffin," said Joshua Irvin, looking down 14th Street.

Joe Taylor stood in his doorway Thursday as he got a tornado warning on his phone. He walked outside, looked down the road, and saw a tornado coming right at him. He ran inside, and watched a large tree come down in his front yard, narrowly missing his front porch.

"Two feet back, it would have come down on me," Taylor said. "Now, I've got reflexes like a cat, but I don't know if I would've moved out of the way of that!"

Taylor's home of 18 years is now shrouded in branches.

"The only part that was hurt was the front part. Everything else inside was intact," he said.

Farther down 14th Street, not everyone fared as well.

"I think if it had touched down it would have been a clean sweep. 'Cause I've seen a clean sweep," Taylor said.

The most important thing, he said, nobody in his neighborhood got hurt.

"Thank God nobody was killed," he said.

Friday afternoon, Irvin stopped by to check in on his uncle, Taylor's neighbor across the street. Irvin rode out the storm with a neighbor. A tree fell in the backyard, landing just 10 feet from the house.

Irvin's uncle had a much closer call. You might say luck runs in the family.

"I got about 10 feet. He got about 2 inches," Irvin said, pointing at the tree brushing his uncle's bedroom window.

You won't hear Irvin and Taylor say, 'luck.' They have a different word.

"I'm going to be honest with you. We are incredibly blessed to have survived this," Irvin said.

"That wasn't luck. It was a blessing," Taylor said.

Luck, blessing, whatever you call it, Taylor says he doesn't know how everyone walked out okay. He does have a theory.

"Thank God I'm okay. I'm not here for materialistic stuff. I'm here by faith, and not by sight. I'm just glad to be here. I thank God for I'm here, and for getting me through this," he said.

While they made it through the storm, the recovery is just beginning. Taylor plans to follow his faith until 14th Street makes a comeback.

Taylor is still living in his home. He just uses the back door right now. Irvin will go back to his apartment and rest before helping to remove the tree from his uncle's yard.

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