In the middle of my front yard where there used to be four rows of pines trees, stands two single trees and a green Jimmy McDuffie for Sheriff sign.
It has now been almost four months since one of the worst nights of my life. On March 15, 2008, a tornado hit my house, along with many others in my area. It tore our garage and bonus room completely off and pancaked our fifth wheel camper onto the side of our house.
My family and I were lucky enough not to be at home when the tornado hit, but it also meant we could not get back in to see the damage until the next morning. That was the hardest and longest night because we did not know what the Sunday morning light would bring.
When I arrived Sunday morning, the first sight of my damaged home brought me to tears. Mr. Jimmy McDuffie was the first one to comfort me and gave me a hug. Then, he and his deputies guided me to my house. After talking to my parents and my dad telling him of the guns he had in the bonus room, Mr. McDuffie and his deputies helped us search the rubble and even called in some heavy duty equipment to help remove some of the large pieces.
Then Mr. McDuffie did something I cannot believe to this day. We had some family that were camping in the mountains with no cell phone reception. Mr. Jimmy heard about this and got the information as to where they were and he called the sheriff’s office in the county that they were in and got a deputy from that county to go out and find our family members to tell them to call home so that they would know what had happened. I never expected that out of a sheriff.
A lot of the community came out to help that Sunday afterwards and I would like to thank all of you who came to help or did anything to help my family and the other families involved. Mr. McDuffie made sure that his deputies patrolled the area at night when we could not be there to protect our property from looters.
Not only was Mr. McDuffie there Saturday night and Sunday, but also he was there everyday for a week or two making sure everybody was okay and helping where he could. He would go around to each individual home and talk to us. He brought his own personal gator and put a cooler of drinks on it and went around passing out waters and Gatorades to all the workers. Then he also helped arrange for a group from Statesboro to come in the following Saturday and help remove all the trees and stuff that was piled into the ditches.
In my opinion, Mr. Jimmy McDuffie went above and beyond his call of duty during this horrible event. It is my understanding that this was not the first time he has gone beyond his call of duty. So now, it is almost four months later and things are put back together for the most part and the green grass is starting to grow between the two remaining pine trees where my Jimmy McDuffie for Sheriff sign stands.
This is the least I could do for a person that has done so much for my family and me.
We are “Stickin’ with Jimmy.”
On behalf of the Blissett family