Family of 8 searching for new home after storm destroys Austell house

A Cobb County family of eight is now searching for a new place to live after a tree crashed down onto their Austell home.

After losing their home and two of their cars, the family says they are "grateful" because they have what is important, each other.

In just a few quick moments Thursday afternoon, everything changed for Willicia Patterson and her family.  

"You can have something and in the blink of an eye it can be gone," she said. "So just be thankful for what you have and don't take it for granted."


Willicia's kids range in age from 5 to 17. They have called the house on William Road in Austell home for a year and a half, but after a tree came crashing down that is no longer the case.

"It's like it jumped from the main road to this field to our house and disappeared," Patterson said.

Image 1 of 16

Storm damage to a home in Austell, Georgia on Jan. 12, 2023. (FOX 5)


The family says once the tree landed on the house, the holes it created allowed rain to pour in and ruin everything inside.

They do not have renters' insurance to cover any of their belongings after they say it lapsed about a month and a half ago. An illness and a lost job meant they fell behind on bills as they worked to make ends meet.

Once news of the destruction spread, people stepped up to help and got them a hotel.

"It's a bad time, but it's a great time as well because our community, our schools reached out, helped us," Patterson said.

This was not the only home damaged in the area Thursday. Cobb County says 49 others were as well. 16 of them are not livable. Officials say two people were injured; both are said to be okay.

On William Road, Patterson is now working to figure out what's next.

"It's materialistic things, nobody got hurt," she said. "Take it one day at a time, but we'll get back together and have somewhere to call home again."

Anyone who would like to help the family, can do so by clicking here.

The National Weather Service says surveyors will be on Saturday to determine if the damage was caused by a tornado or straight-line winds.