Severe storms rake across GA

Early reports indicate more than 100 homes were damaged across 13 counties

BY STEPHANIE BACKUS | BALTIMORE | February 19, 2009



"This kind of storm outbreak is not uncommon, but it is a little early"

—Buzz Weiss, Georgia Emergency Management Agency


Severe weather Wednesday night produced scattered damage across 13 counties in Georgia, damaging more than 100 buildings and killing a mobile home resident in Hancock County.

Buzz Weiss, spokesman for Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), said damage from the storms was widespread. The storms hit metro Atlanta, as well as east central and southwest Georgia.

"We had at least 13 counties affected by the storms," Weiss said. "Another county that was hit hard (other than Hancock County) was Jasper County. They are reporting as many as 100 structures damaged."

Weiss said so far 16 injuries have been reported, but said that number could change as damage estimates continued on Thursday.

Weiss said these kinds of storms are not unexpected in Georgia.

"This kind of storm outbreak is not uncommon, but it is a little early," he said. "This is the third year in a row that we've had significant weather hit this early in the year."

Last year, a tornado hit downtown Atlanta on March 14. The storm hit during the SEC men's basketball tournament.

Ruben Brown, of the Metro Atlanta Red Cross, said they are working with state officials to get damage assessments done and will determine needs after those are done.

"In Newton County, there's a pocket of 20-25 homes that had damage," Brown said.

According to Brown, no shelters were opened as of Thursday afternoon.

"The damage is too widespread and sporadic, so there aren't big areas that have been impacted," he said.

For GEMA, those damage estimates were priority number one on Thursday.

One person died in Hancock County, Ga., after storms struck the state Wednesday night.

"There are reported tornadoes in a number of locations in southwest Georgia and south of metro Atlanta, but they are not confirmed at this time. The National Weather Service is doing damage surveys right now," Weiss said Thursday morning.

Hancock County residents told local media that Hickory Grove Missionary Baptist Church outside of Sparta, Ga., was destroyed in the storm.


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