Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in four counties — Catoosa, Dade, Floyd and Walker, and the list could grow. Two, possibly three, tornadoes touched down in Pickens County, according to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, but residents in other areas reported seeing tornadoes.
Severe thunderstorms, hail and damaging winds moved into north Georgia Wednesday evening. Channel 2 Action News crews were across the area covering the devastation left behind. Images of demolished buildings, fallen trees and power lines were repeated across the region.
Channel 2s Darryn Moore was in Catoosa County, where seven deaths were reported and more than a dozen buildings were destroyed. Some residents compared the area to a war zone.
Ive been here 51 years, and Ive never seen anything like this before in my life, resident Jessie Thorton said.
Another hard-hit area was Spalding County, where two people died in a mobile home, authorities said. Channel 2s Linda Stouffer went to Highway 19, where rescuers with flashlights were walking through wreckage calling for victims.
Its just devastating, a resident told Stouffer.
The storms cleared Thursday morning, but more than 60,000 residents across the state were left without power, 11,000 of which were in metro Atlanta, Georgia Power reported.
GEMA officials said they would spend the day assessing damage and talking to county officials to get them cleanup resources. There were three Red Cross shelters in Dade, Walker, Catoosa counties for storm victims. In an interview with Channel 2s Fred Blankenship, GEMA spokeswoman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan warned residents to be careful.
Be extremely cautious this morning. There are power lines down across state. If you see a power line, avoid it. Also, trees may down, or they could dangling. So, be cautious about trees that havent quite fallen yet, she said.