Rockdale County evaluating storm warning systems after EF-2 tornado

ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. — We are learning how people knew to take cover when an EF-2 tornado touched down in Rockdale County in the middle of the night Wednesday.

Channel 2′s Courtney Francisco spoke with neighbors on Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Some said the sound of trees ripping from the roots and tearing into homes woke them.

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For Sarah Smith, it was the wind.

“I said, ‘God, you’re so good. God, you’re good all the time. Thank you for letting me live’,” said Smith. “I’ll be 89 this month.”

Smith said her cell phone alerts did not wake her.

“I didn’t get anything,” said Smith.

Others, like Joshua Smith, said they didn’t get the cell phone alerts they signed up for, either.

“Being out here, vulnerable like this, it’s scary, honestly,” said Joshua.

Some who were awake during the storm said they received alerts while watching Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Brad Nitz.

Carolyn Gillman said she received a cell phone alert just before a tree split her home in half.

“You had barely enough time, but it saved lives. So, I’m thankful for that,” said Gillman.

Gillman said she noticed that the outdoor sirens did not sound during the storm either.

Rockdale County Emergency Management Agency said it’s never had outdoor warning sirens. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency said it’s up to each county individually.

Deputy Director of EMA in Rockdale County, Meredith Barnum, said the county has been working to install nine of them in area parks.


The goal is to have them working by summer.

The state and county are now working to get answers from wireless providers as to why some people did not get the cell phone alerts they signed up for.

“We did as much as we could in terms of a social media blitz to make sure people had their alerts turned on,” said Barnum.

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