NEWNAN, Ga. — One year after a tornado struck Newnan in the middle of the night, some of the victims are still struggling to move on.
The storm was one of the most powerful to ever hit Georgia, only the 10th Ef-4 tornado on record since 1950.
Only one person died, despite the destruction. His name was Barry Martin.
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For the first time, his daughter Jordan agreed to share her family’s story of loss and heartbreak, but also hope and renewal. And how one neighbor helped her get through that night.
“There’s not enough words to describe him. He just … he was my dad,” Jordan Martin said.
She said her father Barry was her hero and her best friend. She lost that best friend on the morning of March 26, 2021, when the tornado devastated Newnan.
“When he made it to us, I felt I knew that it was going to be OK,” Martin said.
After the tornado hit, Barry rushed to his daughter’s home to make sure she was safe.
“I didn’t notice it at that time, that he might have already had a hard time breathing. But when dad had been crying, he spoke in a very soft voice,” Martin said.
Shortly after the father and daughter reunited, Barry had a heart attack. Because of all the debris in the roads, rescuers could not make it in time.
“I was in shock,” Martin said.
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Now one year later, Martin is sharing the story of her loss, in part because her dear friend and neighbor Elizabeth Graves was by her side to offer support.
Martin lost her father the day before she was supposed to get married. So she went from planning a wedding to planning a funeral.
“I knew that he had passed but I went into survival mode. I really didn’t start having a lot harder time with that until a few months had passed,” Martin said.
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She went on to get married in February 2022. Martin and her wife now live in their newly rebuilt home. They planted a willow tree outside their new home, along with a plaque in honor of her father.
“He was my best friend,” Martin said.
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