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4 twisters likely hit Hall, weather service says

Mt. Vernon Road, Lyman Hall, Oakwood Elementary, Timberidge Road areas surveyed

POSTED: August 31, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Lori Koser/For The Times

Lori Koser, a teacher at Flowery Branch High School, snapped this picture of the suspected tornado as it passed in between Davis Middle School and the high school.

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It is possible that Hall County was hit by four separate tornadoes Tuesday afternoon, according to preliminary findings from the National Weather Service.

After crews from the National Weather Service surveyed damage in the county from a helicopter earlier today, their preliminary findings were that four tornadoes touched down in the county around Mount Vernon Road, Lyman Hall and Oakwood Elementary and on Timberidge Road in East Hall, Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said.

Preliminary reports show that the tornadoes were possibly rated F1 on the Fujita Scale. Tornadoes are classified based on wind speed and typical damage, with an F0 tornado regarded as the least severe and a F5 tornado as the most severe.

Two county schools were damaged and a few families were displaced during Tuesday’s storms, but only a few minor injuries were reported in connection with the storms.

“I think we were very blessed to hear that, and have just a couple of minor injuries,” Cagle said. “I think we were blessed and lucky.”

Authorities received numerous reports of funnel clouds in Hall on Tuesday, as midafternoon storms swept through the area.

Lyman Hall and Oakwood elementary schools received damage. Gordon Higgins, Hall County school system’s director of community relations and athletics, said no damage estimates are available at this time.

“The system is working with maintenance and structural engineering to assess damage in order to begin the reconstruction process. No figures are available at this time regarding the total amount of damage,” Higgins said.

Things were mostly back to normal today at both schools, Higgins said.

Superintendent Will Schofield also sent out a letter of thanks not only to school staff, but also the community and law enforcement who helped deal with the storm.

“(Thanks to) our staff members who protected our boys and girls by maintaining cool heads, using solid judgment, and relying on well-defined and practiced emergency procedures. I have compared the response yesterday to a military operation performed by missionaries,” Schofield said. “(And) our maintenance staff as they appeared almost before the winds ceased and worked throughout the night to have our campuses inspected and ready for school today.”

During Tuesday’s storms, several families were displaced after a suspected tornado passed through East Hall, and several areas near Commerce in Jackson County also were hit by storms.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Fay, which spawned the storms, dropped more than 7 inches of rain at Gainesville’s Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday evening.

Staff writer Ashley Fielding contributed to this report.



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