Storm Damage Friday, Dec. 23, 2011
The F-2 classification means the tornado had 113-157 mile per hour winds and was capable of inflicting significant damage.
The number of Romans without power has remained around the 3,000 mark throughout the day, but additional Georgia Power crews have been called in from Tennessee and South Georgia.
"We're hoping hoping those numbers will be dropping soon," said Georgia Power representative Carol Boatwright.
She said those crews should have reached the area around 3 p.m. The number has remained somewhat constant because other issues today, including new outages from other damage.
As of 3:30 p.m., about 100 North Georgia EMC customers in Gordon County were still without power.
"We have reached the point in restoration efforts when progress seems to be slow because the remaining outages are somewhat scattered and there is still good bit of damage," said Paul Ruud, NGEMC's vice-president of engineering and operations. "We appreciate the patience of our customers who have been without power through the night and today. We know the holidays are a difficult time to be without power."
Floyd County EMA Director Scotty Hancock said the suspects a tornado came through Rome but has not confirmed that with the National Weather Servvice.
Residents in Summerville Park and West Rome described hearing a roaring sound and then hearing trees snap in Thursday’s storms.
Pam Leonard who lives on Charlton Street in Summerville Park has just seen a warning about the storm on the television and the next minute, “it hit,” she said.
A tree crushed her Honda Accord but she was not hurt.
“I never park it on the street,” Leonard said, but she had parked it on there because earlier that day she had visitors and had parked it there.
The area near Ethel Avenue and South Hughes Street was without power as workers with the city of Rome and tree surgeons and electricians with private companies worked to clear the roadways and remove trees from houses.
Leonard said she was thankful that no one was injures.
Only three minor injuries were reported as a result of the storm
Georgia Power representatives estimate that it will be midnight tonight before power is restored completely to 3,160 Rome residents without power as of 11 a.m.
"We're hoping to have the vast majority back by midnight," said Georgia Power representative Carol Boatwright.
She said the work is going more slowly today because they're now concentrating on the separate instances of outages - many of which involve removing trees and replacing power poles and lines.
Approximately 3,800 people are without power in the utility's Northwest Region which includes Summerville, Dalton, Cartersville and stretches to Carrollton but most of the outages have been reported in this area.
North Georgia Electric Membership Corporation has restored power to all but about 150 customers in Gordon County following last night's storms.
The Highway 53 area east of I-75 toward Fairmount suffered extensive damage caused by high winds. At the height of the storm, more than 3,000 North Georgia EMC customers in the Gordon County were without power, according to a press statement. Damage to NGEMC's system included 17 broken poles and numerous fallen power lines throughout the area. NGEMC crews and contract crews are still working in the area and will remain on duty until all power has been restored, company officials stated.
Much of the damage in Rome is between Elm Street and Division Street in West Rome with the Summerville Park neighborhood reporting much damage as well.
Straight-line winds blew roofs off homes and downed power lines and trees on Thursday afternoon, making the first day of winter feel more like the middle of March.
The storm blew into Northwest Georgia about 5 p.m., said Scotty Hancock, director of the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency, and took down 50 trees and caused problems on about 20 roads.
Georgia Power officials had no firm idea late Thursday about when electricity might be restored to all of Rome and Floyd County.
Carol Boatright, a spokeswoman for the utility, said at 10:30 p.m. there were still 9,700 people without power, 7,800 of those inside the city of Rome.
At one point, as many as 12,800 customers were without power in Floyd County.
She said the problem was made worse by the fact that there were 84 separate incidents of outages.
“I am certain by the morning there will still be people without power,” Boatright said late Thursday.
Shortly before 6 p.m., Dick Taylor, assistant vice president for facilities at Shorter University, stood in the parking lot of their maintenance building on John Davenport drive.
The roof was blown off the building and landed several yards away across the street. Just hours earlier, there were people at work in the building, Taylor said.
The building contained furniture, computers and a host of other items, and the loss will be in the thousands of dollars, he estimated.
Just a few hundred yards away on North Division Street, the Fairbanks building was severely damaged. The roof was blown off and parts of the brick walls were lying in the street.
Rome-Floyd County Fire Chief Gordon Henderson was on Shorter Avenue when the storm struck and said there were sheets of rain and winds that felt like they were blowing at 50 to 75 mph.
Service agencies went into action as the damage was assessed, checking on those affected by the storm.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter at Westminster Presbyterian Church, located at 1941 Shorter Ave., and at least one family stopped by for aid Thursday night.
“This shelter is the evacuation shelter due to some of the evacuations that EMA had to do,” said Jeffrey Putnam, executive director of the Northwest Georgia chapter of the American Red Cross. “We will be here until they no longer need us.”
The Floyd County Sheriff’s Office Posse set up its command center on Shorter Avenue and was canvassing the West Rome area, which was the hardest hit, to see if anyone needed help.
Despite the damage, only three minor injuries were reported as of late Thursday night, according to Hancock.
The injuries occurred on Cherry Street, where a tree was reported on a home, on Watts Way in West Rome, and on Ash Street in the Riverside community when someone slipped on debris.
Only 1.24 inches of rain was reported Thursday at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport.
The Gordon County Board of Commissioners also declared a state of emergency in Gordon County.
“A curfew will be in effect in all of the storm-affected areas and surrounding areas from 10 p.m. tonight until 7 a.m. tomorrow,” said a report sent out by officials at the Gordon County public safety joint command operations center on Thursday night.
Affected communities included Gardner Springs, Plainview, Farmville, Sonoraville and Talking Rock.
Officials said they also had to close Boone Ford Road near Sonoraville and Apple Road near Oakman.
Managing Editor Mike Colombo and the Calhoun Times contributed to this report.