published Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Storm cleanup progresses in North Georgia


by Andy Johns
Jan Dyer looks Tuesday at two of the dozen trees downed near her home as Chickamauga, Ga., residents continue to deal with damage from Saturday's storms.
Jan Dyer looks Tuesday at two of the dozen trees downed near her home as Chickamauga, Ga., residents continue to deal with damage from Saturday's storms.
Photo by John Rawlston.
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    Davis Frasier uses a chain saw Tuesday while James Mashburn prepares to lift a piece of a tree that fell onto the house of Pat Gann as Chickamauga, Ga., residents continue to deal with damage from Saturday's storms.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
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    Andrew Wann of Wann's ChemDry vacuums the carpet on the floor of the Chickamauga Civic Center and Council Meeting Room on Tuesday as people in the area continue to deal with damage from Saturday's storms.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
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    A gaping hole remains in the roof of the Chickamauga Civic Center and Council Meeting Room building Monday after the removal of a large tree that fell into the building during Saturday storms.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
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Walker County, Ga., teachers’ email still won’t work and workers continue picking up the pieces from strong winds that ripped through the area Saturday, though officials say it’s nothing compared with what residents of Ringgold and Flintstone went through in April’s tornadoes.

“We continue to be a blessed community,” Chickamauga City Manager John Culpepper said. “I can’t even complain considering what our neighbors to the east and west of us went through [in April].”

Falling trees on Saturday crashed through roofs of a few buildings in Chickamauga, smashed cars on Lookout Mountain and crushed chickens in a Murray County coop. But no one has been reported injured.

Shirley Lamback, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, said there were no reports of funnel clouds in Northwest Georgia, but a weak surface boundary coupled with an upper-level disturbance to create quarter-size hail and 60-mph winds.

“That’s minimum,” said Paul Barys, meteorologist with WRCB. “It could have been 75 or stronger, I’d say.”

Lamback said there were pockets of damage around Northwest Georgia, but usually not more than four to 10 fallen trees in each location.

For some, the howling wind and crashing trees were eerily similar to the April 27 tornadoes.

“It was almost deja vu,” said Dade County Emergency Manager Alex Case.

A handful of roofs were pulled off houses on Sand Mountain and the West Brow of Lookout Mountain, and several cars were hit by trees in Walker and Dade counties.

As of 9 p.m. Tuesday all but about 100 people had their electricity restored, according to power companies, but cable and Internet service still were down in many areas Tuesday.

Officials in Whitfield County say more than 160 homes were damaged and more than 1,000 trees downed. Winds knocked down 33 trees at Dalton Golf and County Club alone, officials said.

Chickamauga police Chief Micheal Haney said the storms were “sudden and unexpected.”

“We did have a lot of damage, but we were fortunate,” he said. Haney said there were only one or two homes he considered destroyed, but many were damaged. One of the destroyed homes was in the Chestnut Hills mobile home park.

A tree fell on the Walker County Science and Technology Center, allowing rainwater to soak the school system’s email and Web servers and knocking out the school website and employees’ email, according to school spokeswoman Elaine Womack. She said workers hoped to have email online this week, but the website could be down longer.

Among buildings that took the most damage was the Chickamauga Civic Center, used for City Council meetings and as a voting precinct. Culpepper said about a third of its roof will need to be replaced after a large tree fell on the building. The city is dealing with wet carpet and waterlogged ceiling tiles inside, he said.

“Right now it’s just trying to get the town cleaned up,” Culpepper said.

Contact staff writer Andy Johns at ajohns@timesfreepress.com or call 423-757-6324.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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