Paulding County Fire chief Mike Earwodd, Deputy Fiire Chief Joey Pelfrey, right, and Sheriff's PIO Ashley Henson, left, examine damage to a hangar and aircraft, caused by an overnight tornado at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport, Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Dallas, Ga. Massive thunderstorms, predicted by forecasters for days, threw off dozens of tornadoes as they raced Friday from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Twisters crushed blocks of homes, knocked out cellphones and landlines, ripped power lines from broken poles and tossed cars, school buses and tractor-trailers onto roads made impassable by debris. (AP Photo/John Amis)
ATLANTA (AP) — A strong storm system swept across north Georgia on Friday, prompting a series of tornado warnings, which included Gwinnett County.
The overnight thunderstorms damaged nearly 100 homes in northwest Georgia and left hundreds without power in metro Atlanta on Saturday as many of the state's southern counties were on alert for possibly more severe weather. No major damage was reported in Gwinnett.
No deaths had been reported and only one injury, a man who had been pulled from the wreckage of his home late Friday in Haralson County on the Georgia-Alabama line, said Lisa Janak, spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. She said the man had been treated at a hospital and was not severely hurt.
Assessment teams were getting a closer look at the damage in northern Georgia, while the threat for tornadoes and severe storms moved into southern parts of the state.
"South Georgia is in the crosshairs right now," Janak said.
The National Weather Service issued tornado watches Saturday for more than 30 counties in South Georgia, where many were placed under flood watches as well. The storms stretched from Albany and southwest counties near the Alabama line across the state to the coast, where Effingham County northwest of Savannah reported trees toppled and power lines down.
Georgia Power said about 2,700 customers statewide were without electricity Saturday. That included blackouts to about 1,500 customers in Eatonton in middle Georgia.
Officials said the worst damage was in Paulding County northwest of Atlanta. Authorities there said nearly 100 homes had suffered moderate to severe damaged, possibly by a tornado, as well as the county airport and an elementary school.
A possible tornado late Friday caused extensive damage to about a dozen planes, hangars and the terminal at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport. Airport manager Blake Swafford said metal ripped from the hangars ended up in trees and several windows were smashed.
"All the fencing is damaged, all of the light posts are damaged, basically everything is damaged," Swafford said. "We're going to be a very, very long time cleaning up a huge mess and starting over."
Not far from the airport, Poole Elementary School had much of its roof torn off and a brick wall had been shattered. Six portable classroom trailers were damaged.
"My first thought is the fact that it wasn't during the day with the kids," said Angie Capobianco, the school's principal. "That's a blessing. I just feel so fortunate that it didn't happen during the day."