Overnight storms and possibly a tornado downed trees, blocked roads and caused power outages, with the most severe damage concentrated in the North Hall area.
Some remained without power Friday morning, including the North Hall Community Center, which is closed as a result. It reopened just before 2 p.m.
Brian Stewart, spokesman for Hall County government, said road maintenance had cleared at least four downed trees blocking roads in North Hall in the early morning hours Friday.
As of 2 p.m., Jackson EMC reported 269 power outages among its members in Hall County. Georgia Power, meanwhile, reported about 70 outages just north of the Gainesville city limits in the early morning and more than 100 outages in the Lula area, as well as in Dahlonega in Lumpkin County.
But it had just a few dozen outages remaining in Hall County by 2 p.m.
Habersham EMC, meanwhile, reported 176 outages across Habersham County at 2 p.m. and 67 in Hall County.
Severe thunderstorms remain possible through this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, with the highest threat east of a line from Athens to Columbus.
“The main hazard will be damaging winds, frequent lightning and localized flooding. A brief tornado will also be possible,” according to a hazardous weather statement from the weather service.
Casey Ramsey, director of the Hall County Emergency Management Agency, said Friday afternoon that he and his team were “still collecting initial assessments” of damage to properties in the Napone Road and Glade Farm Road area of North Hall.
The National Weather Service will arrive Saturday to assist in determining whether the damage was the result of a tornado, Ramsey said.
Despite damage to Dewberry Baptist Church on Clarks Bridge Road, including toppling the steeple, harm was limited and no injuries have been reported.
Ramsey described the scene where the potential tornado set down as “a fairly isolated and narrow path from the church northeastward.”
“Fortunately, so far, homeowners are not reporting major damage to their homes,” he added.
However, Ramsey said, damage to property and some motor vehicles from fallen trees had been reported.
The storm did send some scares through the North Hall community, which suffered a devastating tornado in 1998 that ripped through the local high school and killed several people.
Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said he was lying in bed between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Friday morning when the heavy winds began to take on a distinctly different sound as they built up speed, like a “whirring” against the walls and windows of his home in North Hall.
Schofield said he and his wife “grabbed the little one (child) and ran for the basement.”
When he emerged outside after the storm had passed, Schofield said he was convinced a tornado had swept through.
Power lines had been snapped, and older growth trees all around had their limbs sheared – and some had been entirely uprooted.
“I’ve never seen this before,” Schofield said of the damage. “We’re very fortunate.”