Thousands still without power as cleanup continues after tornadoes touch down

by: WSBTV.com web staff Updated:

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ATLANTA - The National Weather Service confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that two EF-1 tornadoes left a path of damage across Cherokee, Cobb and Fulton counties Thursday night.

At last check, at least 14,700 customers still do not have power around metro Atlanta.

Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns first spotted and tracked the storm six minutes before a tornado warning was even issued.

One of the storms left an eight-mile path of destruction. One of the hardest hit areas was eastern Cobb County.

Channel 2's Ross Cavitt was there Friday when officials with the National Weather Service were on site to determine whether a tornado had indeed touched down.

It took National Weather Service experts just a few minutes looking at some of the snapped tree damage to determine a tornado rolled through east Cobb County.

Cavitt caught up with the NWS crew in a devastated neighborhood near Bishop Lake. They told Cavitt the twister started just north of the Cobb-Cherokee line.

"The tornado was about an EF-0 with winds of about 90 miles an hour. It intensified at Shallowford Road to this area where winds are closer to 110," National Weather Service Meteorologist Steven Nelson said.

With winds of that speed, the NWS determined the storm was an EF-1 tornado, making for some long cleanup ahead for thousands of residents still without power.

Cavitt talked to Bill Clark who said he didn't realize how bad the storm was until curiosity got the best of him and he decided to venture out of the safety of his basement.

"I had to go upstairs and look out the front window to see what was happening to the front trees, and as I did this massive tree came out of its roots with all of the ivy and started heading toward the house so I dove to the basement," Clark said.

The tree sliced through his house, hitting the master bedroom where a few hours later he and his wife would have been sleeping.

"We're calling our kids over in Horseshoe Bend and Sandy Springs thinking they were the ones in danger then all of a sudden it's our turn," Clark said.

The first place the storms touched down was in Cherokee County. Channel 2's Tom Regan talked to Joyce Blalock who said a tree weighing thousands of pounds crashed onto a building right after she heard loud hail, and something that sounded like a transformer blowing up.

"Oh my goodness we got real trouble," Blalock told Regan was her first reaction when she saw the destruction left behind by the storm. "It's pretty devastating to walk out and see such a mess as we had, you know?"

Blalock showed Regan the wrecked garage that she and her husband spent $50,000 on for their RV and other cars. A 1980 Grand Prix was totaled, but Jim Blalock is also a little torn up about the damage to his restored '57 Chevy.

"I'll have to get new parts, this will be hard to fix," Jim Blalock said.

Joyce Blalock said as much as she hates what happened to their garage, it would have been a lot worse if the tree fell the other way onto their house.

"It's something I've never been through before. I don't have to again, but we're blessed," Joyce Blalock said.

Regan also spent time in a Canton neighborhood and found more problems there with scores of down trees, many of which were on homes. Many other were blocking streets and driveways.

"In this one-mile radius I would say there's eight to 10 homes, we got 40-plus down trees," Stephen Tucker with Moore Tree Service told Regan.

Entire subdivisions in the area are still without power, and because there are so many downed wires, it could be late Saturday before it's fully restored.

In parts of north Fulton County, roads remained closed Friday as crews continue to remove downed trees and power lines there.

Channel 2's Mike Petchenik went to a home on Woodstock Road in Roswell where a massive tree went down during the storms Thursday night and took out the home with it.

"God just was watching over us. That's all there is to it," said 95-year-old Evelyn Coleman. "He definitely was with us. There's no doubt about it."

Coleman said as she came of age, so did this tree in her yard.

"(It's) approximately 100 years old," Coleman said.

When storms tore through Roswell Thursday night, the staple from her childhood crashed down onto her guest house.

"I had a lady living in there and thank goodness she's OK," Coleman said.

Coleman told Petchenik a neighbor broke a window and pulled the woman to safety.

The toppled tree was just one of many Petchenik found in his travels around north Fulton County Friday.

Over off High Point Road, Jan Hays told Petchenik she was hunkered down in her basement when a tree came through her roof into a spare bedroom and her house flooded.

Roswell Public Works told Petchenik they have added a special Saturday storm debris collection for people living west of Ga. 400, the area hardest hit by this storm.

Channel 2’s Richard Elliot was with Sandy Springs residents blocked from leaving their homes by two large, fallen trees.

“It’s completely blocked off. There’s no way to get in or out,” resident Christina Maher told Elliot.

The trees also struck power lines, causing outages. Dozens were affected on Spalding Road.

Tree removal crews were on hand, but were unable to begin their work until power crews arrived to check on downed lines.

Widespread outages closed local college campuses, including Kennesaw State and Oglethorpe University. Channel 2’s Erica Byfield went to Oglethorpe, where a tree blocked southbound lanes of Peachtree Road.


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