NORTH FORSYTH -- A north Forsyth family was displaced Monday morning after a tornado sent a tree through their mobile home during a storm that claimed the lives of 17 people as it brought severe weather and floods through the Midwest and South.
Around 10:30 a.m. May 1, an EF-0 tornado, the least-severe classification, formed in the Pleasant Grove Road area, which connects Hurt Bridge Road with Dr. Bramblett Road, downing trees and power lines, according to Chris Grimes, deputy director of Forsyth County’s Emergency Management Agency.
“The National Weather Service came up yesterday afternoon and determined, based on the downed trees and general damage, that an EF-0 tornado formed,” he said. “When we went out to do our damage survey, we found some [trees] down in the Hurt Bridge Road area and Watson Road and we had power lines and trees down on Pleasant Grove Road.
“The road remained closed for parts of the day [Monday] so the electrical companies could fix the downed lines.”
The county was not under a tornado warning when the funnel occurred, Grimes said, which is why none of the county’s 17 severe weather sirens sounded.
“They are only activated when we are placed under a tornado warning, which [none] of metro Atlanta was,” Grimes said. “The confirmed small tornado was somewhat unique for metro Atlanta.”
Forsyth County Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers said the sirens are not meant to be heard from inside a home.
“The tornado sirens are intended to warn those who are out of doors to seek shelter; you are not supposed to hear them inside your home,” Shivers said.
Shivers added there were no serious injuries from Monday’s storm, though the Pleasant Grove home that had a tree cut through it has been deemed a total loss.
“Luckily, no one was critically injured there, but three people were transported [to the hospital] as a precaution,” Shivers said. “An elderly gentleman was slightly hurt [because he] was trapped in the back portion of home until firefighters could reach him.
“The storm was very short lived and the damage, fortunately, was in a fairly semi-rural part of the county with larger estates. It could have been worse.”
As the system moved eastward, other states were not so lucky before it hit Georgia.
The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency counted 143 water rescues statewide but acknowledged that countless others probably were not reported. Hundreds of people were evacuated, a levee was topped in a rural area northwest of St. Louis, and a 57-mile stretch of Interstate-44 was closed.
Flash floods in Missouri were blamed in the deaths of a 77-year-old man an 18-year-old man and a 72-year-old woman.
In Arkansas, six confirmed deaths did not include two missing children who were inside a truck with their mother on Saturday when the vehicle was swept off a bridge.
The body of a kayaker was recovered Monday, a day after he’d gone missing near Little Rock.
Four people died in tornadoes in Texas on Saturday, two in storm-related incidents in Mississippi, and one in Tennessee on Sunday.
As late spring and early summer are prime months for such weather, officials are urging residents to “take precaution and be prepared” as sirens may not always go off for sudden storms that “do happen without warning.”
“Those are one of the most active times for [storms], so residents should be prepared and have multiple ways to get warnings,” Grimes said. “We have a free service for emergency notifications on the county’s website.”
Editor Kayla Robins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.