ATLANTA — Many will remember the tornadoes that wreaked havoc in downtown Atlanta and across Georgia on March 14 and 15, 2008 – leaving many iconic Atlanta buildings damaged.
At least a dozen tornadoes in Georgia that weekend, but one formed in the middle of the downtown’s tourism district that Friday night, a first in the city’s recorded history.
The EF-2 tornado cut a 6-mile path through downtown, damaging the Georgia World Congress Center, the Westin Peachtree Plaza and the Equitable Building. The 200-yard-wide tornado moved along the Atlanta skyline for about 12 minutes with winds of up to 130 mph.
The Georgia World Congress Center sustained the most damage where windows were shattered, seats were scattered and portions of the ceiling sustained major damage.
"I have not seen anything like this before," former Atlanta fire Battalion Chief Gerry Rusinski said after surveying the scene Friday night. "It looked like 9-11 when we pulled up."
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At the Georgia Dome, fans were watching an SEC basketball game during the storms.
Mississippi State and Alabama were playing overtime when the tornado struck around 9:40 p.m.
The storm ripped open a panel on the side of the Dome, shearing bolts and causing insulation to fall into the arena.
The game was completed after the storm moved through. The rest of the tournament was postponed.
The Dome, along with several other downtown buildings, underwent repairs while staying open for business.
Shattered glass, metal, insulation and other debris littered the streets around downtown for the days following the storms.
Commuters to downtown Atlanta were encouraged to stay home that Monday as cleanup in the area continued. Many streets were closed and some traffic lights remained out.
Tens of thousands of people were without power for days from the storm.
At least two people in the state were killed during the storms -- one in Polk County and another in neighboring Floyd County.
Floyd County Deputy Chief Coroner Tony Cooper said an elderly man, who was home alone, was killed by flying debris. "His house is gone," Cooper said. "You can't even tell it's a house. It was a small frame home."
Statewide, the damage was about $250 million, making the storms the most expensive in Georgia history, said John Oxendine, commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire for the state.
Cox Media Group