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State News

January 31, 2013

Crews work to assess storm damage, restore power

ADAIRSVILLE — Georgia’s fire and insurance commissioner plans to fly over tornado-damaged areas in northwest Georgia Thursday, one day after storms demolished homes in Adairsville and overturned vehicles along nearby Interstate 75.

Fire Safety and Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said he plans to assess the damage from the air, beginning with a fly-over in Calhoun around 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

National Weather Service crews will assess storm damage in Gordon County and Bartow County, which is home to Adairsville, forecaster Mike Leary said early Thursday. Crews will also assess damage from possible tornadoes in Floyd, Paulding and Gilmer counties before confirming how many tornadoes struck the state Wednesday, Leary said.

In Adairsville, 51-year-old Anthony Raines was killed when a tree crashed onto his mobile home. Several injuries were also reported.

About 9,600 customers remained without power early Thursday morning, with 2,500 of them in the northwest part of the state, Georgia Power reported.

By 5 a.m. Thursday, Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives had reduced the number of its customers without power to fewer than 5,000 in north Georgia -- down from 14,000 Wednesday.

About 10 people stayed overnight at a shelter in hard-hit Adairsville, American Red Cross spokesman Ruben Brown said early Thursday. The Red Cross has opened a second shelter at a Baptist Church in Calhoun, Brown said.

The Red Cross has emergency vehicles in the areas and plans to pinpoint where needs are greatest as it decides how long the shelters will continue to operate, said Red Cross spokeswoman Sherry Nicholson.

“During disasters these things are fluid,” she said. “We’ll see what happens today and see if the need continues.”

The strength of winds in the storm system that struck Georgia was “extremely unusual,” the National Weather Service said in an analysis of what happened. Though the line of storms was weakening, very strong winds near the surface continued.

“Being so close to the ground, these winds would be able to reach the surface and were largely independent of the individual storm strength, meaning severe winds would be possible regardless of the storm intensity,” the weather service said in its storm analysis.

Also, despite an overall weakening trend in the line of storms, “we still had healthy storms as the line moved into western Georgia with sufficient lift to take advantage low level wind shear and produce the unfortunate Adairsville tornado.”

 

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