• Catoosa Grants Limited Access To Tornado-Ravaged Areas

    CATOOSA COUNTY, Ga.,None - Catoosa County authorities are allowing limited access to areas that were shut down after Wednesday night's deadly tornado.

    Eight people were killed by the tornado. Businesses and homes were reduced to rubble, prompting a shutdown of the city of Ringgold. On Friday, limited access was permitted into Ringgold, but authorities were still involved in search and rescue efforts.

    Channel 2's Amy Viteri was at a Friday morning news conference, where Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers advised residents to be cautious amid the wreckage. He said storms damaged or destroyed 50 percent of the Catoosa's business buildings, and 25 percent of residential areas.

    "Although it was really devastating for our area, we are very thankful that although we did have loss of life, it could have definitely been much worse," Summers said.

    Officials identified the storm victims as: Kelsea Black, 16 Pamela Black, 46 Cody Black, 21 Christopher Black, 47 Holly Readus, 26 Robert Jones, 47 Jack Estep, 61 Ray McClannahan

    Seven of the eight victims died on Cherokee Valley Road in Ringgold.

    Access was limited to Ringgold because of uncertainty over the structural integrity of many buildings, Summers said. Anyone wishing to enter the city will have to provide identification or proof of ownership of a business at established checkpoints.

    "We still have a lot of businesses that have major damage that are structurally unsafe, and we may not allow those business people to go into their businesses anyway," Summers said.

    Summers requested that anyone already in the town stay indoors. He also asked residents to boil water as a precautionary measure, but water treatment is fully operational again. Power crews were working to restore electricity to the area.

    County officials will reveal the identities of the tornado victims killed. Anyone looking for unaccounted tornado victims is asked to call the Catoosa County help line at 706-965-7183 or 706-965-7139.

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