Adairsville Police Chief Robert Jones is asking the public to stay out of the two-mile path of wreckage left by a tornado on Wednesday.
Georgia Power reports 189 customers without power in Adairsville, North Georgia EMC reports less than 1,700 people remain without power in Gordon County.
In Bartow County there area 31 Severely damaged or totaled structures,19 moderately damaged structures and 47 slightly damaged structures.
Crews are working to clear up the debris left by the storm today. Adairsville Mayor Evan King said the city is in touch with the Georgia Department of Labor in an attempt to find work for those recently employed at a virtually destroyed Daiki plant.
One fatality has been reported in Adairsville and eight injuries so far.
A daytime storm cell that pretty much skipped over Floyd County on Wednesday slammed into Adairsville, killing one person there and causing severe damage in the Bartow County community.
More than 3,000 people remained without power late Wednesday and Georgia Power Co. crews have set up a remote command control center at the Adairsville Food Lion, 7409 Adairsville Highway.
Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in Bartow and Gordon counties following the storm.
Anne Kaiser, Georgia Power’s vice president of the Northwest Georgia region, said crews expected to continue working all day today and possibly into Friday.
The lone fatal victim of the storm, Anthony Raines, 51, died when a massive oak tree toppled into his mobile home at 105 S. Cass St., Bartow County Coroner Joel Guyton said.
Damage and injuries also were reported in neighboring Gordon County, emergency officials there said.
Joseph Summerfield, owner of Gold and Guns on U.S. 41 in Adairsville, said the tornado hit just after he returned from picking up his daughter Makenzie at school.
“I pointed up at a big cloud that was swirling and said those are the clouds that drop tornados,” Summerfield said.
His comment to his daughter proved prophetic just seconds later. His older daughter, Allie, had just gotten back to the shop after turning around on her way to Georgia Highlands College in Rome.
“Right after she walked in, the lights went out and the doors just blew out,” Summerfield said. “I was just trying to push everyone back into the bathroom.”
Mark Swanson, president of the NorthSide Bank on Ga. 140 said the bank lost its roof to the storm, but all of the employees were safe after gathering in the vault.
Next door to the bank, more than half of the nearly 17-year-old Daiki Corp. plant was destroyed by the storm. Several employees were injured and taken next door to the bank to await medical attention, but none of the injuries were considered life-threatening.
Ginger Tyra at the Cartersville Medical Center said the hospital saw two patients brought from the storm in Adairsville. The two women, ages 53 and 46, suffered relatively minor head injuries. It’s not clear where the women were when the storm hit. Both were treated at the hospital and released.
Larry Sparks, owner of Sparks Muffler and Performance at 5581 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Adairsville, said that the storm hit just after his wife and son got to the shop.
His son, Shon Sparks, had just gone to a nearby convenience store to get a soda. That store, the Big A Supermarket at the corner of Cherry Street and U.S. 41, was destroyed by the storm.
“He was that close to being blown away by the storm,” Sparks said.
As soon as his wife and son got into the shop, Sparks told them to get into the bathroom.
“About that time, it hit. We heard the glass go, and we didn’t know what else was going to happen,” Sparks said. “It all came, and it was gone that fast. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.”
The storm ravaged a residential community southwest of the intersection of Ga. 140 and Ga. 53. Homeowners and neighbors were busy through the afternoon, trying to cut trees that had toppled onto houses.
The worst of the damage appeared to be in an area bounded by Cherry Street on the north, Old U.S. 41 on the west and south, and Interstate 75 on the east.
Floyd County ‘was lucky’
Ga. 140 in Adairsville was closed for a time to keep traffic away from the city. Ga. 293 in Floyd County, near the Bartow County line, also was briefly blocked while crews cleared fallen utility lines and debris.
Heavy winds swept through Floyd County late Wednesday evening, toppling some trees and power lines, but as far as the devastating daytime storm went, the county was lucky, said Scotty Hancock, director of the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency.
Hancock said other than a tree that struck a house on Dogwood Drive and some trees down on Pleasant Valley Road, there was no serious damage in the county from the early storm.
There was some flash flooding of roads because of a heavy downpour. At Richard B. Russell Regional Airport in Armuchee, 2.31 inches of rain was reported as of 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Hancock said he thinks the same storm cell that hit Adairsville passed directly over Cave Spring.
“We were tracking it,” Hancock said.
Law enforcement personnel from all over Northwest Georgia quickly poured into the Bartow County community to help with traffic and spectator control. A Georgia Emergency Management Agency Mobile Command Center was set up near the remains of the Big A Supermarket.
Adairsville Police Chief Robert Jones said there had not been a problem with looting of the businesses that sustained serious damages.
“We’ve got enough officers out here to prevent that,” he said.
Jones had not received a final count of the number of homes and businesses that were damaged by the storm as of Wednesday evening.
Power lines were down throughout the city and all along Ga. 140 east of U.S. 41. More than 3,300 Adairsville customers lost power as a result of the storm.
“It hit hard and hit fast but, fortunately, it didn’t hit as wide of an area as we’ve experienced before,” said Georgia Power’s Kaiser.
Injuries, curfew in Gordon County
The North Georgia EMC reported more than 4,000 customers lost power when the storm continued northeast into Gordon County, primarily in the Sonoraville area. At least 100 power poles were knocked down.
Late Wednesday several roads remained closed in Gordon County, including Meadowlark Lane, Cardinal Road, Cardinal Boulevard, Farmington subdivision and Stone Mill subdivision.
A curfew had been put in effect for those areas overnight.
Eight people were reported injured in Gordon County, two of them said to be serious.
Approximately 3,000 North Georgia EMC customers remained without electricity in Gordon County late Wednesday, according to company spokeswoman Laura Sparks.
Crews were continuing to work in areas heavily damaged by the storm. Sparks said customers using generators should make sure their equipment has a transfer or double throw switch to prevent dangerous feedback into the system while crews are working.
Rome News-Tribune Managing Editor Mike Colombo and Rome News-Tribune Staff Writer Bobby Moore contributed to this storm report.