North Georgia officials assess damage from Sunday's storms

Photo contributed by Walker County Government / First responders and emergency management officials asses damage in Walker County from Sunday night's storm.

In Northwest Georgia, Murray County experienced the most brutal consequences when an EF-3 tornado swept through in the middle of the night, killing seven and injuring nearly two dozen.

But other parts of North Georgia are also cleaning up after destruction from Sunday night's storm.

Alex Case, director of emergency services for Dade County, said an EF-1 tornado touched down Sunday night and had winds that topped 100 miles an hour.

Five families were displaced from their homes as of Wednesday afternoon. Case said at least four homes were completely destroyed and about 105 homes were damaged.

Georgia Power is working to get electric power back on for everyone in the area. Case said he and his staff are working on a few families that are uninsured and finding out if they will be taken care of if and when state and federal relief funds become available.

Case said the tornado travelled from the west at the Alabama border toward the Back Valley community in Dade County, over the Trenton Golf Course, along Highway 159, crossed over to the city of Trenton and then headed south of the city near the Dade County Sports Complex before finally heading up Lookout Mountain and continuing east.

"A lot of volunteers are out there, churches are helping out, friends and other members of the community, as always," Case said. "It's a blessing."

Case said relief responders have been running around "from daylight to dark" to get on top of the situation.

Three people were injured during Sunday's storm. Case said one man fractured his back and neck, but he wasn't sure of the specific severity of his injuries.

photo Photo contributed by Walker County Government / Damage to a garage in Walker County from Sunday's storm.

The Dade County Sheriff's Office had to rescue a family from their home on Cherokee Trail after flooding trapped them there.

Dade residents who have questions or need help should call Case's office at 706-657-4111.

In Walker County, the storm that officials say likely included a tornado in the Center Post community damaged nearly two dozen homes in a four-mile stretch along Ramey Road, Halls Valley Road and Highway 151.

The Walker County Fire Rescue team made the finding during a preliminary damage assessment earlier this week.

Fire Chief Blake Hodge, who also serves as the county's emergency management director, said no injuries were reported in Walker but a wide variety of damage was found.

"During our assessment, we found dwellings with minor damage all the way up to total destruction," Hodge said.

Walker County Public Works crews worked Monday clearing downed trees and power lines from roads and Tuesday removing storm debris from roads.

County spokesman Joe Legge said there were more than 100 reports of trees blocking roadways in the county, and six other roads sustained damage from flooding and are at risk of being eroded underneath the asphalt.

The following roads have been marked and closed off from travel: Lake Howard Road, Littlejohn Road, Jones Road, Andrews Lane, Pocket Road and West Cove Road.

Legge said there isn't a timetable yet for when the roads will open.

In Catoosa County, Emergency Management Director Steve Quinn said about 150 homes were damaged, ranging from shingles missing to trees falling on homes and destroying them. No major injuries were reported.

Quinn said there are five homes he would consider destroyed in the county, while two or three families were displaced. Others found refuge at friends' homes and or had insurance companies help out.

The majority of the damage from the late-night storm was in the Fort Oglethorpe and Graysville areas. A couple of hours before the storm started, some areas in Catoosa County saw flooding and 30 residents at the Battlewood Apartments were evacuated.

Quinn said power is being restored by the minute, and he cautioned people who are using generators to practice safe use and to make sure they are kept outdoors and not in homes or garages.

Whitfield County seemed to have escaped any major damage.

Emergency Management Agency Director Claude Craig said the county's 911 call center received nearly 590 calls Sunday night and Monday morning, and only two were for trees falling on homes. Craig said 14 residential homes were damaged but none had any major damage.

The others included 74 calls for trees and power lines in the road and 52 for flooded roads.

North Georgia EMC provides power to customers in Catoosa, Chattooga, Floyd, Gordon, Murray, Walker, and Whitfield counties, and its emergency crews have restored power to more than 25,000 members since Sunday night.

Nearly 750 North Georgia EMC members were still without power as of 1 p.m. Wednesday and might be without it for another 24 hours.

A statement from the utility said crews are still working to restore power while more trees are falling because the ground is saturated in certain areas.

In Chattooga County, close to 40 homes were severely damaged or destroyed and nearly 100 had significant damage from the storms, officials said. Most of the roads in the county were affected by the heavy rains. Over 80% of residents in the county had their power shut off, but no serious injuries were reported.

More than a dozen roads were closed due to flooding and downed trees.

Pamela Vaughn, director of EMA in Chattooga County, said the county is working with the National Weather Service to see if a tornado touched down or not.

To reach the Chattooga County Emergency Management team with reports, concerns or to request a tarp, call 706-857-3400, ext. 2.

Contact Patrick Filbin at Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.