Newnan High School takes direct hit from powerful tornado

NEWNAN, Ga. — A powerful EF-4 tornado ripped apart a Coweta County high school early Friday morning as it barreled through metro Atlanta.

The catastrophic storms left at least six dead as it moved across Alabama and into metro Atlanta.

One of the cities that took the brunt of the storms was Newnan, and Newnan High School took a direct hit.

After spending months in online classes, and then for some rejoining their teachers in person, looking at the damage at the school is especially hard.

“It just doesn’t even feel real,” Newnan High School 10th grader J.D. Roland said. “Just thinking about the school or anything it’s going to be harder to focus.”

Every building on the Newnan High campus was damaged by the overnight tornado.

Walls were ripped down and roofs were torn away, just like house after house in the surrounding neighborhood.

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In the ninth-grade wing, windows were shattered in room after room. At the football coach’s office, the outside walls fell in, collapsing in on his desk.

“It’s kind of numbing right now. Too much to look at and take in,” said Darryl Brooks, the school’s head of maintenance. “Lots of water damage, lots of roof units.”

Across the grounds, large lights were toppled around the football field and trees were uprooted one right after another.

“It was like, ‘where am I?’ even though I drive here every day,” student Emma Phelps said.

The superintendent told Channel 2′s Tony Thomas that officials will assess the damage over the weekend, and before Monday figure out a path ahead, at least for the short term.

For seniors, the storm was just another direct hit in their final year of high school.

“It’s nothing we could expect, just to put something better on top of the pandemic,” one senior told Thomas.

Brooks said he’s just happy the winds hit the school at midnight and not in the middle of the school day, when about 2,400 students would normally be there.

“We wouldn’t have been talking about buildings. We could have been talking about something worse,” Brooks said.

Another nearby elementary school was also damaged in the storm. It’s still unclear if or how classes will be held next week.