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Storms bring trees down; rain brings lake level up

POSTED: April 13, 2009 11:00 p.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Norton Homeworks landscaper Ricky Redfern, left, cuts limbs off a fallen tree while Jeremy Jones makes a pile after a 150-year-old tree fell Monday across the driveway at the Norton Agency off Green Street. The large tree missed the building's front porch by about three feet, said company President Frank Norton Jr.

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High winds and stormy weather Monday took out trees and power lines throughout Hall County.

Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said he started receiving calls around 10 a.m. about trees and power lines down.

The 911 center answered 369 calls in about two and half hours, he said.

Cagle said he only received a report of one minor injury, which happened on Joe Chandler Road when a tree fell on a male. The male sustained a cut to the head and was transported to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

During this morning’s storms, 0.83 inches of rain fell at the Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport, according to the weather service Web site. As of 6:15 p.m., Lake Lanier was at 1,062.46 feet above sea level; full pool is 1,071 feet. The lake has gone up about a foot since Wednesday.

Around 1,000 Jackson Electric Membership Corp. customers and 7,800 Georgia Power Co. customers in the Gainesville area lost power due to the stormy weather.

Hall County road maintenance crews also had a busy afternoon clearing fallen trees out of the road.

Road Maintenance Director Kem Smith said road crews removed between 250 and 300 trees.

"And that’s not counting what the fire department helped out with," Smith said.

Five trees fell on Mountain View Road alone, he said.

"The trees just had nothing to hold on to," Smith said. "This was some mighty wind we had this morning."

A 150-year-old tree fell across the driveway at the Norton Agency off Green Street, missing the building’s front porch by about three feet, said president Frank Norton Jr.

"I have two crews cleaning it and we’ll have our driveway clear shortly," he said, adding that the only property damage was to a globe on an antique lamppost.

"We consider ourselves very lucky. I saw (the tree) sitting from my office coming down."

The incident "points to the fact that these trees on (Green) Street are very fragile and at some point we really need, as a community, to begin some replanting," Norton said.

A tree fell across Interstate 985, blocking one lane between Exits 22 and 24. Trees also fell across Flat Creek Road, Old Cornelia Highway near Ga. 52 and Kenimer Road, and power lines were down on Moon Drive, Jordan Drive and Friendship Road before Holiday Marina.

The weather service had expected Monday’s hazardous weather could bring up to three inches of rain to north and central Georgia.

Parts of Georgia got up to 3.5 inches of rain on Friday as severe storms trekked across the state. The storm system produced at least nine tornadoes and injured one person in Hancock County in central Georgia.

Times staff reporters Melissa Weinman and Jeff Gill contributed to this story.



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