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Storm near Mall of Georgia may have included tornado
56 homes damaged; nobody injured
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A powerful storm that included a possible tornado tore up an estimated 56 homes and one business in Buford Tuesday afternoon, but nobody was reported injured, said Gwinnett County police Cpl. Jake Smith.

Twelve homes received heavy damage, Smith said. The area that was hit was Gravel Springs Road at Kirkland Drive near Interstate 85.

Hall County was under a tornado warning into Tuesday evening, but no major damage was reported from the storm.

“We’re just watching the radar. We have some (wind shears) around up to 80 mph,” said Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell, who also serves as Hall’s emergency management director.

Gwinnett County police officers spent the afternoon going door-to-door through neighborhoods to check on residents. The storm downed trees and power lines, scattered debris and blew off pieces of homes.

Rachel Shuler, 35, of Buford was home with her 2-year-old when she heard the rain start to pick up and the wind gusting outside.

“My first reaction was to grab my baby and run into the bathroom,” she said. “I don’t remember any sound but my ears popped. It was very scary.”

Shuler’s house was virtually untouched, but her next door neighbor’s home suffered heavy damage with a section of the house missing and the front door and window blown out.

“I feel so blessed,” Shuler said, choking up. “But my best friends live next door and I feel so bad about what happened to them.”

Dorin Cret, 32, a construction worker, was sitting in his Dodge Ram truck on a Buford street when the storm blew through.

“It was raining real hard and out of nowhere a gust of wind came, and I felt my truck shake from side to side,” Cret said. “I thought it would flip over.”

National Weather Service officials said they plan to visit the site to determine whether the damage was caused by a tornado or straight-line winds.

About three quarters of an inch of rain was expected to fall overnight in Hall County before skies were to turn sunny but windy and cold today. The high was predicted to be in the mid-40s and winds may reach 10-15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.

Temperatures tonight will dip into the high 20s and the winds will die down, the weather service said.

Through the weekend, forecasters predict clear skies with highs in the low- to mid-50s and lows near freezing.


Associated Press and staff writer Jeff Gill contributed to this report