Storms batter Floyd County and Bartow County
Ted Gilbert, his family and friends on Thursday were picking up the tools and equipment scattered from a box truck from his business, Tops Galore. The truck was blown across the street during Wednesday’s tornado.
Rick Welsh was picking up his socks amid the demolished roof and walls of what had been the hotel room where he was staying while he worked a contract job in Calhoun.
“The people out now, you walk around and see everybody’s got a little bit of a shock on their face,” said Adairsville Mayor Evan King. “That’s part of the process, and we’re working the process. I’ve got a little bit of shock on my face.”
Adairsville Police Chief Robert Jones said the tornado cut a path about two miles long and a quarter of a mile to half a mile wide.
The tornado was classified as an EF-3 by the National Weather Service, according to meteorologist Matt Sena. Generally, EF-3 tornadoes have wind speeds from 136 mph to 165 mph.
The storm cost one man his life.
Anthony Raines, 51, of 105 S. Cass St., died when a massive oak tree toppled onto his mobile home, according to Bartow County Coroner Joel Guyton.
Eight people were injured, Jones said.
Bartow and Gordon counties were declared a state of emergency by Gov. Nathan Deal, which makes the area eligible for assistance.
Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said tornadoes that struck the state Wednesday caused an estimated $75 million in insured losses, and that number is expected to increase.
The strength of the storm crumbled decades-old buildings and residences.
Thirty-one buildings were severely damaged or totaled, according to officials with the Bartow County Emergency Management Agency.
Nineteen were moderately damaged, and 47 were slightly damaged.
Some of the rooms of the Relax Inn, located on U.S. 41, were leveled.
Welsh was staying in one of those rooms. He wasn’t there when the tornado hit, but he was told that someone was in a bathtub among the debris.
Gilbert’s Tops Galore had been located at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Elm Street for 17 years. Not only did the tornado carry his box truck across the street, it destroyed his building.
Gilbert, his wife and a friend huddled in a bathroom inside the business as the storm passed.
“The only walls that are stable are the bathroom walls that we were inside,” Gilbert said as he stood just a few hundred feet from the devastation.
Gilbert said he will carry on.
And that’s what King and state and local officials are beginning to do.
“Our city infrastructure has been impacted. Our city water lines, our city gas lines,” King said. “We have a two million gallon reservoir tank that the top portion, the top is off of it. So that’s going to impact water that we sell to Floyd County, water we sell to Bartow County.”
The city is not rebuilding alone. The support is seen in the different badges of law enforcement from around North Georgia who came to help keep the city secure.
They were needed, according to Jones.
“The biggest challenges are that we need essential personnel within the affected area,” Jones said. “We don’t really need onlookers.”
Volunteers are needed, but they should not go straight to the site.
Anyone wishing to help is asked to check in at the Adairsville Church of God on U.S. 41, according to Jones.
The American Red Cross set up two shelters to assist as long as they have clients, according to Bob Sheldon, a volunteer with the organization. In Adairsville, the shelter is located at the Manning Mill Youth Facility, 163B Manning Mill Road. Belmont Baptist Church at 126 W. Belmont Drive is the site of the shelter in Calhoun.