Deadly tornadoes wreck GA towns

Widespread damage reported across northern Georgia, downtown Atlanta, homes, damaged

ATLANTA | March 15, 2008

At least 27 people were injured and widespread damage was reported Friday night when an F2 tornado tore a six mile path, 200 yards wide across Atlanta.

Severe thunderstorms with baseball size hail and tornadoes also damaged communities across northern Georgia Saturday. At least three people were killed.

Some of the most spectacular damage were holes torn in the Georgia Dome while the Southeastern Conference basketball playoffs were being held, and The World Congress Center which lost much of its roof and damage to the CNN Center, but fire officials said early Saturday there is significant residential damage as well.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm that hit just before 10 p.m., may have been a tornado. Tornado warnings had been posted for the area during that time.

At least one apartment complex, an old mill that had been converted to apartments, lost its roof and partially collapsed. Captain Bill May, the Atlanta Fire Department spokesman, said the loft apartment complex built in a converted cotton mill was partially collapsed as a result of the storms.

Buzz Weiss, a spokesman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, told reporters that at least 20 people were injured.

The American Red Cross opened a shelter for approximately 100 people Friday night.

Students at Georgia State were evacuated from their dorms, at least one of which was damaged. A downtown nursing home also evacuated and residents were taken to the shelter.

Catherine Kim, of Atlanta's Channel 11 news, described the area outside of the Dome as a "combat zone." Gerry Rusinski, Atlanta Fire Battalion Chief, compared Friday's damage to what he had seen following 9/11. "I have not seen anything like this before," he added.

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