• Dunwoody tornado survivor reflects on terror

    By: Jeff Dore


    DUNWOODY, Ga. - It's been 15 years since a deadly tornado tore apart a swath of Dunwoody. Channel 2's Jeff Dore returned to the area Tuesday and spoke with a survivor who talked about the scary experience.

    Tom Watters showed Channel 2's Jeff Dore a photo album and recalled looking out his window when the sun came up.

    "I could see radio towers that were miles away, so I knew the entire subdivision had been blasted and all the big trees were gone," Watters said.

    He said the air smelled like Pine-Sol from the shredded trees, and an entire forest on its side. They kept pulling trees from the back yard piling them in the front.

    "(It was) 170 feet wide, 20 feet deep, eyeball-high, three times," Watters said.

    The tornado reduced the world to who and what he could touch.

    "Initially, you're cut off. You're on your own. The authorities can't get to you," Watters said.

    DeKalb County and Georgia Power moved in like armies, clearing roads, stringing cable, before a slew of volunteers arrived.

    "It was so overwhelming. You had to accept help you normally would never accept. It was wonderful. Churches, friends, strangers, they all came out," Watters said.

    The volunteer work seemed endless and it was brutally hard, he told Dore.

    "Other people are not capable of doing it. They just walk away. They have to. It's too much for them and they walk away. We saw that," Watters said.

    He predicts the stress from the Oklahoma tornado will tear apart some families as it did around Dunwoody. He said looking at that tears at his heart and wakes up a lot of memories.

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