Starting Saturday, April 30, Kroger shoppers can round up their purchases to the nearest dollar to directly benefit the American Red Cross and their relief efforts in Huntsville, North Georgia and throughout the Southeast.
11 a.m. Update: Anheuser-Busch is providing 12,936 cases of drinking water — or more than 362,000 cans — for use by families affected by the severe weather and the relief workers who are coordinating support for affected areas of Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.
Last night water for these states left Anheuser-Busch’s brewery in Cartersville, Ga., and was scheduled to arrive this morning. Yesterday in Georgia, Eagle Rock Distributing, 340 Howell Drive in Dalton, received a truckload of canned water from the Cartersville brewery to assist with relief efforts in Ringgold.
Working with emergency management officials and relief organizations, the wholesalers are working to ensure the water gets to residents and relief workers who need it.
“People throughout the South affected by the tornadoes are in need of fresh drinking water, and this is one way Anheuser-Busch and our local wholesalers can help,” said Peter Kraemer, vice president of Supply for Anheuser-Busch. “We've provided this resource for many years to help communities across the United States because our business allows us to package and distribute canned water quickly."
10:30 a.m. Update: Donations are desperately needed for the residents of the Cave Spring area affected by the tornado.
Specifically, crews need plastic totes, bottled water, cleaning supplies and tarps.
The Salvation Army has set up a mobile kitchen on US Highway 27 North at Food Lion in Armuchee from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The mobile kitchen will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to people affected by the storms. This mobile kitchen will be open for the duration of the recovery activities.
For those that have services or items to donate, please contact Jim Bradshaw at 706.235.2308 or via cell at 770.546.4766.
If those affected by the storms are in need of assistance, please also call the numbers above to register and have your information documented.
Update 5:00 p.m. As of 5 p.m., Georgia Power said approximately 160 customers were still without power in Polk County.
The majority of those customers were in Cedartown at around 103. 47 customers remain without power in Silver Creek, four in Cave Spring, three in Rockmart, one in Aragon, and one in Lindale, according to to Georgia Power.
Work is continuing to restore power.
Update 4:40 Search-and-rescue crews combed for survivors Thursday among the rubble of buildings flattened by a suspected tornado in northwest Georgia, where a chain of severe storms killed at least 14 people and injured dozens more.
Seven were killed near the Georgia-Tennessee state line in Ringgold and surrounding Catoosa County. Sheriff Phil Summers told reporters Thursday that a number of people reported missing have yet to be found, though he didn't know how many. Searches were focusing on debris among fast-food restaurants and motels near Interstate 75 and several residential areas that the sheriff said had "nothing but foundations left."
"We have what I would call extreme damage, devastation that we're dealing with," Summers said. "We do have buildings and homes that are completely gone, they've been completely devastated in this. So we have a lot of work."
At least five tornadoes were reported in Georgia since the storms began Wednesday, according to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service.
Two people were killed in Spalding County when a tree fell on a home, according to Maj. Wendell Beam of the Spalding County Sheriff's Department. One man died when a storm hit his Rabun County home. Two people were killed in Dade County, and two others in Lamar County. Details on those deaths were not immediately available.
A suspected tornado in Ringgold flattened about a dozen buildings, trapping an unknown number of people. In addition to seven dead, county officials said 30 people were taken to hospitals and an additional 150 were evacuated to emergency shelters.
Phone and power lines are down all over town and small buildings look crushed, as if someone stepped on the roof. With so many tree limbs snapped, the smell of pine was powerful.
Clare Fackler, 63, had stopped to rest for the night at a Ringgold motel while traveling home to Michigan. She said she was talking on the phone when she felt pressure in her ears, heard a rumble and told her friend, "I have to go. There's a tornado coming."
Fackler of Harrison Township, Mich., said she tried to dive for cover between the two beds in her room.
"Before I could slide off the bed, the ceiling came down on me," she said. Despite bruises and cuts to her right arm, used to shield her head, Fackler escaped without serious injury.
According to National Weather Service meteorologist Jessica Fieux in Peachtree City, five survey teams are in the field in 15 different counties trying to determine precisely how many tornadoes touched down Wednesday.
She said weather conditions were ripe Wednesday for so-called tornado super cells, which resulted in the multiple storms.
Officials were still evaluating damage in other parts of Georgia on Thursday.
In Dade County, Coroner Johnny Ray Gray said the south end of Trenton suffered heavy damage, including an apartment complex in the town about 125 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Police in Ringgold were keeping all nonemergency people and traffic off the city roads Thursday so rescuers could search through debris. The sheriff said the storm knocked down electricity lines and caused gas leaks. He said there have been reports of looting.
The storm struck near Interstate 75, then crashed through the city's business center before going over a ridge and devastating a residential community. The sheriff said rescue and recovery efforts would likely take days and Ringgold residents were asked to boil water as a health precaution.
There were early reports that eight campers were missing along the Pine Mountain Trail in Roosevelt State Park. But Nancy Jones, chairman of the Meriwether County Board of Commissioners, said they had been contacted by authorities and all were safe.
Associated Press writers Shannon McCaffrey, Jeff Martin and Leonard Pallats in Atlanta and Russ Bynum in Savannah contributed to this report.
Update 3:00 p.m.: Pieces of roofing tin dangled from tree branches and draped over fences along Padlock Mountain Road, but the house they’d been torn from was nowhere in sight.
Sidney Ford, 49, walked among what remnants of his home hadn’t been flung into Big Cedar Creek or along Jim Shack Road.
“I built this (house) by hand,” Ford said. “I touched every board in here.”
Ford’s house was one of dozens ripped apart by Wednesday night’s storm.
Georgia Power, cable and city crews spanned the region working to dig out roadways from the forests they were buried under and to check devasted structures for survivors.
Ford said he and his wife ran to the bathroom, crouched down and started praying right before the storm hit their house.
That corner of the house is the only part that wasn’t turned into a skylight.
“This is the most craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Ford said. “I thank God that I’m here.”
2:33 Update: Bartow County is still digging out from what Battalion Fire Chief Bryan Cox said was almost certainly a tornado -- and officials are asking the curious to stay away from the stricken areas.
The Crowe Springs area and, basically, "everything between Highway 41, Joe Frank Harris Parkway, and Rydal" took the brunt of the storm, Cox said.
"We have a lot of homes damaged in the northeast part of the county; anything from minor damage to total destruction," he said. "The Sheriff's Office has a tight security ring around our hardest-hit areas. Give us a few days to get it secure. We've already had a few instances of delayed responses because people were blocking the road."
Emergency responders spent the night checking damaged structures and answering "numerous, numerous" calls for help, Cox said. Four people were taken to Cartersville Medical Center with broken arms or legs, but most of the reported injuries were treated on the scene. One firefighter was treated for exhaustion.
At one point, more than 30 roads were blocked due to downed power lines, trees or structure debris. Crews had most of the roads clear by Thursday afternoon and officials were out assessing the damage.
Cox said the winds cut a large swath nearly diagonally across the county, from just east and north of Kingston to the Gordon/Cherokee/Bartow county line.
"We were put under tornado warnings three different times, and some eyewitnesses reported funnel clouds twice," he said. "It hasn;t been officially designated yet, but from the amount of damage it appears it was a tornado."
Update: 1:35 p.m. Georgia Power says that 398 of the original 760 people remain without power in Polk County as of 1:35 p.m.
Almost all of the current outages are in Cedartown without approximately 80 in the Silver Creek area, according to Georgia Power.
Workers continue to remove trees and fallen lines around the the county and in others after the massive damage caused by Wednesday night's storms
Update: 11:40 a.m. Most of the damage in Polk County was concentrated near the Floyd-Polk County line, according to Polk County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) officials.
Two volunteer stations, Stations 5 and 9, spent the night handling damage at Jackson Chapel Road near Cave Spring where multiple homes were damaged, officials said.
The other stations scattered throughout the night trying to get to areas as they heard about possible tornado sightings and damage.
EMA officials confirm that some were trapped in debris at Jackson Chapel but also that all escaped unharmed.
Today, emergency personnel were handling the aftermath which included numerous telephone calls. EMA officials said they had more than 100 today regarding damage, tying up their phones until mid-morning.
Aragon officials said their city had no damage, although it was reported to be in the path of a tornado Wednesday night.
Update 10:20 a.m. Polk County got lucky in the storm that rocked Northwest Georgia Wednesday night, according to local emergency officials.
"We were very fortunate in our reports," said Polk County Deputy Coroner Tony Brazier. "We had some trees down, downed lines in our community, but we pretty much dodged the bullet again."
Although there was an initial unconfirmed report of two possible deaths in Cedartown, Brazier said there weren't any deaths in Polk County and only minor injuries.
Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd agreed. He said the worst and most life-threatening damage occurred on Jackson Chapel Road near Cave Spring on the Polk-Floyd County line. Multiple homes were destroyed and people were trapped inside one, he said.
He said the Polk County Volunteer Fire Department managed the scene and they, along with police, assisted in getting the resident out from under the debris. Dodd said no one was injured in the incident.
Brazier, who was watching the storm on radar at the 911 office with other emergency personnel, said the area between Polk and Floyd appeared to suffer some of the worst winds.
"Jackson Chapel near Cave Spring took a really bad hit," he said.
Dodd said they had reports of a funnel cloud on Lake Creek Road and a mobile home destroyed on Lees Chapel Road, but police saw nothing to confirm either.
"We got lucky. It's better than what other counties got," he said.
Brazier said he and other emergency personnel packed up ready to assist locally or other counties should they be needed.
The worst areas outside this county were Booger Hollow Road in Floyd County and Cartersville, according to Brazier.
He said the power of the storm was tremendous.
"It's really quite frightening how they move and at the speed at which they move," Brazier said.
Previously reported:Three houses were completely destroyed and a number of trees are down in Polk County from the storms that slammed into Georgia last night according to the Polk Emergency Management Agency, but no injuries were reported.
"The best thing I know is that we were lucky," an EMA rep said. "We did have some damage on Lee's Chapel Road, and three houses were completely destroyed.
Polk EMA stated that most of the damage caused by the storm happened around the Lee's Chapel Road area.
In addition around 1200 people are without power in Polk County Thursday morning, according to Georgia Power
The outages are concentrated in Cedartown with approximately 760 without power and around 280 in Rockmart, Georgia Power said.
Multiple super cell storms slammed Polk County last night.
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