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Boat Owners Devastated by Storm Destruction at Georgia Storage Site

By Joe Ripley

Tim Hawkins hauled load after load of scrap metal and wood onto trucks and trailers, a task he had been doing for hours on a Friday in late July. He and dozens of other friends, neighbors and boat owners took stock of the damage done by a severe storm on a Thursday night in late July at Hammond’s Boat Storage in Forsyth County, Ga.

“My mother-in-law, she spent 30 years building this place up,” Hawkins said about the boat storage facility owned by his family. “It was pretty devastating to see the damage when we first pulled up. We had a lot of hugging moments, we got through it, got her blood pressure down, and we gotta muscle through it at this point.”

The business has been family owned and operated since 1986. Hawkins’s mother-in-law, Candy Hammond, said the storm sent debris flying into a field next door. She heard about the extensive damage from a nearby business. Hammond said the storm wrecked about 50 stalls and up to 20 boats were damaged.

Dozens of family, friends and boat owners came to help clean up the mess, which could take weeks to totally clear. Jeff Doris had his dream boat damaged by the storm. The devastation did not stop him from pitching in to help his neighbors clean up the debris. 

“I love to fish, I really like my boat,” Doris said. “But it can be fixed. Kind of a sickening feeling, but you get it cleaned up around it and then try and help everybody else. They’re friends. You help each other out. It’s a fairly small community and you get to know people, care about them, and they’d do the same for me. You try and help out as much as you can.”

Hawkins said seeing so many people come by to help spoke to how a small-town community can band together to help each other out in a time of need. 

“It’s been pretty nice to see a lot of people,” Hawkins said. I haven’t seen some of these people in a long time. As soon as they heard about it, they came running, bringing trailers and lots of gloves, lots of hammers, lots of crowbars, just a lot of sweat.”

The storm also felled trees and powerlines, leaving some parts of Forsyth County without power. Hammond said her fishing store next door to the boat storage facility lost power and cost her all of her precious fish and bait stock. 

Hawkins spent the day calling boat owners, informing them that some of their boats were damaged and the protection around them destroyed. He said each individual boat owner would need to file with their insurance company. Meantime, his family will file their own insurance claim, while they and plenty of neighbors continue to clean up the damage left behind by Thursday’s severe storm.

“We’re just thankful nobody’s hurt,” Hawkins said. “We’re just trying to lift everybody up when we can. So everybody’s got everybody’s back.”

The fire is a reminder to all RV and boat storage property owners to review insurance policies and make sure they have the coverage needed to protect their business. 

According to Terry Anderson of Tenant Property Protection, “Every RV and boat storage facility must develop a Risk Management Assessment and Plan. Without it, their high-income asset is subjected to devastation from every weather-related event and incidences of theft.” 

“Owner/operator negligence in preparing for the risk of winds, fires and burglary has led to the rising cost of property and casualty insurance rates,” he continues. “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.” 

Click here to learn more and register for the Toy Storage Nation Executive Workshop.

Joe Ripley is a reporter for 11 Alive in Georgia.

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