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Tornadoes Down Trees, Threaten Livelihood of Georgia Marina

Reminder for all owners: Insuring properties cannot be overlooked

A Mansfield, George newspaper reported that an owner of a local marina and RV site says he is determined to reopen despite recent tornadoes felling more than 30 large trees all around his business operation. Miraculously, no injuries were reported because of some RV residents’ efforts to avoid the storm and its restaurant being closed for the season.

“The best part is nobody got hurt and there were people there in campers when it came through,” said owner Don Wright. “It could have been a disaster.”

“It doesn’t even look like the same place,” he added. 

The fire is a grim reminder to all storage property owners to make sure they have updated all insurance policies. “Every RV & boat storage facility must develop a Risk Management Assessment and Plan. If not, this high-income asset is at the whelm of every weather-related twist and turn,” explains Terry Anderson, President and CEO of Tenant Property Protection, providers of insurance products and services specific to self-storage, RV and boat storage. “For instance, I have witnessed significant windstorms and fires that have wiped out storage facilities because they did not properly keep the brush and trees regularly manicured on their property.

 “Owner/operator negligence in preparing for the risk of winds, fires and burglary has led to the rising cost of Property & Casualty insurance rates,” Anderson continues. “There have even been situations where the loss of income and lack of reimbursement to replace buildings lost to the elements or outside-related incidents has cost owners their livelihood. A Risk Management Assessment and Plan is a way to save profits and costs when faced with potential losses. Every good general business property and casualty agency in the storage industry should have a resource available to meet this need.”

Bear Creek Marina is located on Jackson Lake just east of the Newton County line in Jasper County, southeast of Atlanta in Georgia.

The Jan. 12 incident included high winds and two tornadoes traveling near each other along a path through southern Newton and nearby areas of Butts, Jasper and Henry counties.

Wright said 31 trees fell on the marina’s grounds, including some that did serious damage to three RVs camping at the marina. 

“For an RV park and having that many people living there, it’s amazing nobody got hurt,” he said.

About 19 people live “long term” in RVs on the marina grounds.

Those inside the RVs at the time had moved to a cinder block bathhouse nearby to escape injury, Wright said.

“I know a lot of them were there (Jan. 12),” Wright said.

“I went down the next morning and they were shell-shocked,” he said. “People wandering around … like in a war zone.”

Wright is awaiting the final damage total from his insurance company but the bulk of the business escaped serious harm.

He said he was awaiting word about structural damage to the restaurant — which is open from March to October. Trees fell on the front and back porches of the restaurant but not the building’s roof, he said. 

“We may be opening a little bit later but the plan, at this point, is to open,” he said.

A boat storage area took some damage but “it’s repairable.” Its docks on Jackson Lake escaped harm, Wright said.

“I’m not going to give up that easy,” Wright said.

Tom Spigolon is a reporter with the Covington News at cov.news.com.

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