Atlanta events still on

Associated Press
Millard Farmer makes his way past storm rubble as he enters his office in Atlanta.

ATLANTA --- Workers struggled to their offices Monday through debris and snarled traffic after a tornado struck downtown, but no long-term effects on the city's lucrative convention and tourism industry were anticipated.


The twister knocked hundreds of hotel rooms out of commission and caused significant damage to the city's largest convention venue, the Georgia World Congress Center, said Spurgeon Richardson, the president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"We are open for business," he told reporters.

A volleyball tournament next weekend was still on and expected to attract 38,000 people to Atlanta, though it might be scattered around venues throughout the metro area instead of concentrated at the World Congress Center as planned, officials said.

The Omni Hotel lost the use of nearly 500 rooms when the tornado hit Friday but is still hosting a 600-person U.S. Department of Energy conference this week, said hotel marketing director Mike Sullivan.

At least 27 people were injured but no deaths were reported in the city. Two people were killed in northwest Georgia in a separate storm Saturday. Statewide, damage was estimated at $250 million.

Crews worked Monday to clear debris littering part of the World Congress Center, but the 3.9-million-square-foot center still has enough undamaged space to house most of the upcoming conventions, said Mark Zimmerman, general manager.


SAVANNAH, Ga. --- When crowds evacuated powerless Savannah bars Saturday, they took their pocketbooks -- and the revenues bars rely on the rest of the year -- with them.

The storm-spawned blackout occurred about 10:30 p.m., right in the middle of Savannah's three-day St. Patrick's Day festival.

"Of all the 365 days of the year for this to happen, (Saturday) was probably the worst," said Rick Sampson, assistant general manager at Fiddlers Crab House.

-- Associated Press