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Area soaked but safe

Forsyth not hit as hard as other counties

POSTED: January 31, 2013 4:40 p.m.
Jim Dean/

Standing water slowed traffic Wednesday on Atlanta Highway in Cumming. While heavy rain fell across Forsyth County, the area was spared any major damage from the storms.

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For the third time in three weeks, Forsyth County dodged major damage from severe weather.

While the threat of ice and snow had disrupted school and other activities the past two Fridays, on Wednesday it was fierce storms and possible tornadoes.

Twisters struck parts of northwest Georgia, causing widespread damage, and flooding occurred in parts of the north Georgia mountains, including Towns County, where 6 inches of rain fell.

Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in Bartow and Gordon counties, areas that were hardest hit during a suspected tornado.

By contrast, as of Thursday, 2.26 inches of rain had fallen in the Forsyth County area.

“We had a lot of rain,” said Karleen Chalker, a spokeswoman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. “It was pretty calm in comparison to what we were expecting.”

Chalker said there was one weather-related incident called in about 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

Sawnee Drive was closed for nearly eight hours after a tree fell across the road near Jackson Drive and landed on a power line.

A motorist escaped injury, Chalker said, when she attempted to drive under the tree. The limbs, however, did damage her Nissan Altima.

According to Chalker, the tree likely fell due to a combination of high winds and heavily saturated ground. Georgia Power crews were summoned.

“They had to go back and get a tree crew because in addition to the power lines being down, the tree was down too. So there were two crews — a Georgia Power line crew and a Georgia Power tree crew,” Chalker said.

“That was one of the delays in getting the road open … we were just able to open the road up at 11:21 a.m.”

Forsyth County Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers said the only weather-related calls the department received were about three for small fallen trees and “one response for a blown transformer.

“That one transformer was at about 3 p.m. and it was in the Old Atlanta corridor near Sharon Road,” he said. “It was a right-of-way power transformer, but when [firefighters] arrived there was no fire, no sparking. It had just de-energized and we confirmed it was not a safety issue.”

Shivers said the downed trees were also easily handled “very quickly with no effect to the community.”

“We were very, very fortunate and thankful we didn’t suffer any damage related to the weather,” he said.

Chalker said staff at the emergency operations center was “monitoring the weather and keeping us all updated.”

“We were trying to stay ahead of the curve,” she said.

A tornado watch stayed in effect for most of north Georgia through much of Wednesday and, at one point, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for most of northeast Georgia, including Forsyth.

Area responders with The Salvation Army and Gainesville-based American Red Cross of Northeast Georgia were poised to respond as needed to emergencies in north Georgia.

The weather is expected to remain chilly today, with sunny skies and a high temperature near 38 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

The rain likely will benefit Lake Lanier, which stood at 1,063.17 feet above sea level on Thursday. Winter full pool is 1,070 feet.

Jeff Gill of the FCN regional staff contributed to this report.

 

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