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Echoes of Effingham: Remembering the 1940 hurricane
Many trees like this blew down in 1940.

As we sat around during Hurricane Matthew and thanked the Lord that we had no building damage, just a lot of trees and limbs down, my 85 year old father Arthur Exley told stories of his childhood.

In 1940, the Exley family was living near Clyo, Georgia. The family had been to church on Sunday morning and during the service the weather began to deteriorate.  It got worse as they made their way home. They opted not to go a short distance to a cousin’s house for lunch. In these days there was no weather warning. They got inside as the wind and rain commenced. The house was made of clapboard with no inside walls, a tin roof and wooden floors. The wind came from one direction for a while. Rain blew in through the walls and flooring. Only a part of one bedroom of the 4 room house had a dry spot in it. The rooms were several inches deep in water. My grandfather sent the oldest son Edwin to the barn to nail the tin back on which he did. A pecan tree was blown down. Later as the winds changed direction after a quiet spot in the storm, perhaps the eye, wind came from another direction and the pecan tree stood upright again and it lived. Imagine no warning at all to endure a storm! When it all ended the doors on the house were not able to be opened due to the debris from the trees. One of the boys got out of a window and cleared the way. Somehow they had survived this scary event.

At my mother’s home, the chimneys blew down on the old Hinely farmhouse in the hurricane. Many trees came down. Lumber was cut at a nearby sawmill and cured in a tobacco barn to build a house by winter so as to have a way to heat the home. The new house, which is currently my home, was triple walled on the exterior and double floored, having much more stability for storms to come. It has endured many storms.

Although we had power loss with hurricane Matthew and much debris to clean up, we did have plenty of warning about the storm and knew to expect electrical outages.  Generators kept food from ruining in freezers and refrigerators at many homes. Neighbors helped each other. We had constant storm updates on cell phones, radios or television. Our country has come a long way in warning us about an approaching hurricane.

This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos or historical information to share contact her at 912-754-6681 or email