Taken by storm: Homes, cars damaged; no deaths reported

LAWRENCEVILLE - Thunderstorms rolled in early Saturday morning with tornado-like force knocking down power lines, trees and scattering debris throughout Gwinnett County.

No injuries or deaths occurred as a result of the storm but falling trees caused extensive damage to houses and cars, said Thomas Rutledge, Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman.

Gwinnett firefighters helped residents tarp roofs and cover damaged windows with plastic to prevent further water damage Saturday afternoon.

"The Fire Department plans to place staff with additional fire equipment for logistical support if needed," Rutledge said.

Countywide power outages also occurred but were not as extensive as in adjacent counties.

"Less than 100 people are without power in Gwinnett County," said John Sell, Georgia Power spokesman late Saturday. "Gwinnett was not among the harder hit areas. We did have quite a bit of outages in North Fulton but we're continually working and will have everyone back up by the end of the day."

Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine said he is waiting to hear whether the National Weather Service rules the Georgia damage was caused by tornadoes.

"I have not heard an official ruling but I can tell you from what I've seen it's typical of tornadoes, and I've been doing this for 12 years," Oxendine said. "I think what they'll probably say is that some of the damages were from tornadoes and some was from high winds."

It generally takes the National Weather Service a couple of weeks to confirm a tornado has passed through, but Mattie Fain of Lilburn said it was definitely a tornado that touched down in her neighborhood.

"It was a tornado because there was no lightning, no thunder and no rain or wind," Fain said. "I put my foot on the floor (in preparation to go to the basement), and it was like a big whirl and by the time I got from my bed to my bedroom door it was all over."

Oxendine said there is no price tag yet on storm damage but once surveys are done he expects the number to be high.

In Barrow County, officials reported no injuries or major damage.

"We had one tree in the roadway but nothing major," said Nick Patrick of the Barrow County Fire Department.

Rutledge reported significant damage occurred at these locations:

•Cherry Way in Lilburn

•Willow Trail Parkway in Norcross

•Grayson New Hope Road in Grayson

•Hamilton Mill Road in Buford

•Sycamore Road and Buford Dam Road in Buford.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.