ATLANTA — Communities in south metro Atlanta are still picking up the pieces and looking toward recovery Saturday after multiple tornadoes swept through Thursday and left behind a trail of significant damage.
While the National Weather Service has confirmed tornadoes touched down - in communities such as Butts Cobb, Spalding, Troup and Meriwether counties - it has not yet confirmed how strong those tornadoes were. The NWS said its final tornado count is still being determined.
We'll also be waiting on updates from cities that were hardest hit, like Griffin and LaGrange, for official assessments of the toll the tornadoes took.
As new information and updates from officials come in, we'll be tracking them below:
Day 4 updates
8:45 p.m. | Georgia Red Cross has opened another shelter to help provide housing and relief to those impacted by the recent tornado outbreak.
The American Red Cross of Georgia has deployed 95 staff and volunteers, of which 8 are virtual, who have helped displaced residents and have answered more than 100 calls for help.
City Park Gymnasium (Newly added)
601 Camp Northern Rd
Griffin, GA 30224
First United Methodist Church
1401 Maple Street
Griffin, GA 30224
Faith Baptist Church
552 Hammett Road
LaGrange, GA 30241
6:40 p.m. | Griffin-Spalding County Schools will be closed to students Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as the area works to restore power and clean up tornado damage, the district announced.
Monday will observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Tuesday will be closed for students and staff. On Wednesday, staff is asked to report to work but students will not have to return to class.
Employees who are unable to report to work on Wednesday should notify their administrators.
3:30 p.m. | On Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. the Community Teen Coalition will provide free groceries and free hot meals, according to a news release. Their efforts will be in collaboration with the Kroger Company, Target Corporation and This Is It BBQ.
Day 3 updates
11:00 p.m. | The NWS completed its first damage survey for Cobb County Saturday. It determined an EF-1 tornado hit the county. It also determined at least two separate tornadoes were found in Butts County. You can find the details of each report below:
Cobb County - EF-1 tornado confirmed
The NWS determined an EF-1 tornado hit Cobb County with winds up to 110 mph with a span of 1.51 miles. The tornado traveled 150 yards starting at Sweetwater Creek State Park in Douglas County and ending near Six Flags Over Georgia in Cobb County, just three minutes later.
According to the NWS report, the tornado spun up near the intersection of Oak Ridge Road and Oak Ridge Pky SE, which is about a half-mile north of I-20. The NWS said the tornado immediately caused damage to an 18-wheeler truck. The tornado then moved northeast across Ivy Point Row SW, where several large trees were snapped and homes were damaged. The tornado then turned southeastward uprooting several trees and causing more damage to homes on Hembree Lane SW and Blair Bridge Rd SW. The tornado continued onto William Road and snapped a dozen more trees before dissipating over Myra Lane. The NWS said there were locations along the track, where it appears the tornado lifted just enough to bring larger trees down on homes, but left objects on the ground undisturbed.
Butts County- At least 2 tornadoes confirmed
The NWS also determined two separate tornadoes touched down in Butts County. The first tornado is likely an EF-1, the NWS said. It began just east of the county line and south of Hwy 16, then crossed I-75 before ending just to the east of the interstate. A large amount of damage was found on the north side of the county, extending from the county line into Spalding County. The NWS said more work needs to be done to determine its path.
Day 2 updates
5:53 p.m. | The NWS said Peachtree City survey teams were able to assess multiple damaged locations from Troup County to Spalding County Friday. At this time, surveys are still ongoing as officials try to determine the total number and path lengths of tornado tracks in the area. The NWS said it may take multiple days to complete these surveys given the complexity of the tracks.
Here's the latest breakdown from the NWS as of Friday evening:
Spalding County- EF-3 tornado confirmed
At least two separate tornadoes were found in Spalding County. EF-3 damage was determined from damaged homes along Kendall Drive – west of Griffin. That same tornado then moved into northern parts of Griffin. Additionally, a second tornado occurred on the eastern side of the county – with the worst damage near Hwy 16 and S. McDonough Road. The NWS said it's still finalizing the paths of both of the storms. The NWS said surveys will continue on Saturday.
Troup, Meriwether & Pike Counties
EF-2 damage was found in Troup County southeast of LaGrange in the Lexington Park community, where numerous homes sustained damage. The NWS of Peachtree City said its working with officials in Birmingham to determine if the suspected tornado extended its path from Chambers County, Alabama into Troup County. The NWS said it will finish its evaluation at a later date.
Additionally, EF-2 damage was also found from the surveys in Meriwether County with damage extending into Pike County. The NWS said it's still working to determine the total number of tornadoes associated with all of the damage, which includes determining if the damage is continuous across these counties. The NWS said these ongoing surveys will also likely take several days.
The NWS is also investigating several other areas for damage. A survey team will visit Cobb County Saturday to determine if a tornado occurred near Austell. The NWS said preliminary reports have been provided by Cobb County's EMA.
3:20 p.m. | The National Weather Service has issued a preliminary EF-3 rating on the tornado that struck Griffin on Thursday. the NWS identified at least two tracks with the tornado, and say that the exact wind speed associated with the tornado is still being finalized. An EF-3 generally indicates 136-165 mph wind speeds.
1:30 p.m. | Officials in LaGrange and Troup County just gave a press conference on response efforts. Main takeaways for residents are:
- Four people were hospitalized in LaGrange with non-life-threatening injuries from the tornado, according to City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Mark Mitchell.
- About 106 homes have some type of damage, according to Mitchell.
- Three families were in need of housing assistance last night and were set up in hotels.
- About 1,500 residents lost power, which has mostly been restored, Mitchell said.
- The Red Cross has a temporary shelter available at Faith Baptist Church at 552 Hammett Rd.
- A prayer vigil will be held in LaGrange tomorrow, Saturday Jan. 14, at 5 p.m. in Lafayette Square.
- Troup County is distributing from a stock of 109 tarps for homes that experienced roof damage. They are available at the Troup County Jail Annex at 2508 Hamilton Rd. from 2 p.m.-6 p.m.
10:51 a.m. | Several Georgia officials, including Gov. Brian Kemp, plan to tour the storm damage after the state weathered severe storms and had several tornadoes touch down.
Gov. Kemp spoke at a conference and reported two fatalities, including a Georgia Department of Transportation employee responding to storm damage and the previously reported 5-year-old who died when a tree fell on the car.
Officials also noted that aside from fatalities, many people were injured in the storms, with several families displaced.
"We know of people that were stranded in homes, where literally the house collapsed, and they were trapped in the crawl space," Kemp said on Friday.
The department and Georgia officials said there is no determination on the financial damage the storm has caused on the state; according to the Governor, they will access economic damage after dealing with "life and safety issues and restoring power."
10:15 a.m. | According to a release, Gov. Brian Kemp will provide an update on storm assessments and damage, as well as the state's response, at 10:45 a.m. We will stream that live in the video player above this story.
8:25 a.m. | For a full list of school closures on Friday in the wake of Thursday's weather, see the story below:
8:20 a.m. | The latest information we have from the National Weather Service is that four confirmed tornadoes touched down across the south metro area on Thursday. The NWS is planning surveys for Friday in Troup, Meriwether, Pike, Spalding and Butts counties.
For more of our coverage, see below:
- National Weather Service confirms multiple tornadoes from Thursday’s storms
- Tracker | Damage reports throughout metro Atlanta region as storm system sweeps through
- NWS to survey aftermath of suspected tornado damage in north Georgia
- Tree falls on car traveling through Butts County killing 5-year-old, medical examiner confirms
Photos: Severe damage impacts metro Atlanta homes, businesses