Park Owner Recounts Killer Storm's Fury
The manager of the Cartersville/Cassville-White KOA campground said he saw the full fury of Wednesday night’s (April 27) devastating northwest Georgia storm system firsthand.
Shawn Miller said he saw the funnel of a tornado as he worked to get his customers to safety, the Bartow Neighbor reported.
“It was a pretty scary scene there last night,” he said.
Miller said he knew the first round of storms were headed in the direction of his campground on Cassville-White Road about 9 p.m.
“I knew the swell, the first one, was heading in our direction,” Miller said. “Sirens went off and (staff and I) went and told our camping guests to come in to the bath houses.”
There were about 25 campers who took shelter in the facility’s two 25-foot by 12-foot bath houses, he said.
Miller said he felt heavy winds swooping up from the southeast and saw numerous lightning strikes to the northwest.
“As I was watching to the (northwest), I could see the lightning strikes and I could see the funnel just over the tree line and, of course, everything changed then and I told anybody outside to get inside,” he said.
The tornados passed to the north of the campground, Miller said. He said only some large tree limbs fell at the campsite.
The storms passed the KOA but devastated other nearby areas of the county.
Two homes were destroyed and about 100 homes damaged in the White and Pine Log areas, a county official said.
However, the number of injuries could not be confirmed this morning as sheriff's deputies and emergency workers went door to door looking for victims, said Chris Moseley, assistant to the director of the Bartow County Emergency Management Agency.
Fallen trees and debris from damaged homes blocked traffic on Sparky Trail, Clear Creek, Snow Springs and Shotgun roads, Moseley said. Ambulances could not get through to the damaged area, she said.
Moseley said her department was working with the American Red Cross to secure a site for an emergency shelter and was "trying to get basic supplies" to those left homeless.
The first line of storms came through Wednesday about 8:30 p.m., doing damage in the White area. A second line of storms came through the county about 11 p.m. and damaged homes in Pine Log, she said.
Power outages were reported. Bartow County Schools were closed today.
"Due to storm damage and widespread power outages, school will be closed for all students and staff on Thursday, April 28, 2011," stated a notice on the county school system's website.