January 31, 2013

Storm sends local responders south

Rachel Brown

CHATSWORTH — Freelance writer Amber Nagle was in Dalton on Wednesday when a tornado missed her house just outside of Adairsville by about half a mile.

Nagle said the tornado’s path was uncomfortably close to where another tornado hit in 2011. At least one person was found dead in Adairsville after the twister hit Wednesday during the storms that swept across several states, flipping over vehicles on Interstate 75 near Adairsville, temporarily closing the roadway there near exit 306, and damaging numerous businesses and homes.

“Adairsville is a very small, rural community and there’s not a lot of money there,” Nagle said. “It just seems like the last couple of years have been hard economically for us, and dealing with the tornadoes has been very difficult. We would appreciate people thinking and praying for our community.”

The storm system that produced the tornado and damaging winds south of here created little damage in Murray and Whitfield counties but did briefly send some people scrambling for shelter.

A tornado warning issued in Murray County shortly before noon had people in dentist’s offices, government buildings and elsewhere sending everyone inside to bottom floors and interior rooms. About 25 people inside the Murray County Annex Building huddled on the first floor to wait out the warning as they talked to friends and loved ones to make sure they were as safe as possible.

A tornado warning means someone has seen a tornado or funnel cloud or that one has been detected by radar. No tornadoes touched down locally, according to official reports, but, like in many places in northwest Georgia, there were some areas of flooding.

Several local emergency workers drove to Adairsville to assist storm victims there. The Chatsworth Fire Department sent three individuals while the Whitfield and Dalton fire departments collectively sent about 10 to help with search and rescue efforts. Whitfield County Emergency Management Director Claude Craig said Hamilton EMS provided an ambulance.

A Murray County 911 operator said there were several downed trees in the county but no major property damage. Officials from local law enforcement agencies reported some wrecks because of the weather but not an unusually large amount.

Pat Thompson with the Salvation Army in Dalton drove down to Adairsville Wednesday afternoon with three others, and a couple more planned to arrive later. They were there to distribute coffee and food to emergency responders and help in other ways as needed.

Several people in Whitfield and Murray counties said they still hadn’t heard from their friends and family who might have been affected after power was knocked out in Adairsville; much of Gordon County was also without electricity.

North Georgia EMC reported Wednesday afternoon that crews were working to restore power to more than 4,000 customers affected by the storms in Gordon County alone.

“We ask that people in the affected areas stay off the roads for their safety and so power crews and other emergency personnel can work safely and efficiently as well,” Vice President of Engineering and Operations Paul Ruud said in a press release.

At least 100 electricity poles in the Gordon County area will need to be replaced, officials said. Further south, thousands more people were without power.

At least two Facebook groups, Adairsville GA Tornado Recovery and Adairsville Georgia Tornado Info, are providing information on recovery efforts and volunteer opportunities.

Be prepared

Whitfield County: Visit www.whitfieldcountyga.com and click on the CodeRed Weather Warning link at the bottom of the page to receive up-to-date weather alerts before storms hit.

Murray County: Visit www.murraycountyga.org, click on the link to sign up for email notifications and follow the instructions.

North Georgia EMC phone numbers

• Dalton: (706) 259-9441

• Calhoun: (706) 629-3160

• Fort Oglethorpe: (706) 866-2231

• Trion: (706) 734-7341