Originally created 04/09/06

Tornadoes pummel suburbs of Atlanta



ATLANTA - A series of tornadoes swept through the Atlanta area early Saturday morning, striking businesses, homes and churches and causing some of the most extensive damage state officials say they have seen in years.

Authorities said the storms damaged homes and businesses in Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Hall counties. No deaths or serious injuries were reported, said Buzz Weiss of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Mr. Weiss said most of the damage appeared to be in Cobb and north Fulton counties. Cobb at one point had up to 2,500 homes without power.

State Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine, who surveyed the damage, said the force of the storms and the densely populated areas they hit combined to make them the most devastating he has seen in the state since 1998.

"This is going to be a very, very expensive storm," he said. "I hate to even think of what the cost of this storm is going to be."

The National Weather Service said four twisters swept through the state.

In Roswell, a car wash was destroyed and windows in other nearby businesses were broken.

At least one church was reported destroyed, as was an office building. Several stores were among the buildings that sustained heavy damage.

Georgia Power spokesman Tal Wright said crews hoped to have power in all affected areas restored by nightfall, except for the hardest-hit in north Fulton County, which were expected to be restored by midnight.

Tiffany Fell, of the Red Cross, said crews found 17 homes with major damage and one home destroyed in Cobb County and four homes with major damage in Cherokee County.