When the sky went black and wind kicked up, all Barbara Dunson could do was grab her dog, Max, and pray.
“I got me a pillow between a chair and the couch, and hunkered down,” she said, standing outside as raindrops trickled down. “It sounded like a train.
“I was just scared. I could just feel a tree falling on me. But me and Max just hunkered up and covered ourselves with a pillow.”
The Chadwick Drive neighborhood, between Oakwood and Flowery Branch, sustained minor damage after a storm blew through around 2:40 p.m. Wednesday.
Storms across the county knocked down trees and power lines, with two homes at the Chadwick Drive location receiving minor damage.
Emergency crews responding reported the Chadwick Drive damage was caused by high winds, according to Scott Cagle, Hall County Fire Services planning and preparedness chief.
But Brian Wofford, who was stepping out of his workshop when the storm blew through, believes he saw a tornado.
“It came right over the top of that tree,” he said, gesturing. “And it hit the ground right behind that other big tree. It bounced ... it cut right across. It almost sucked me out of the door.”
Cagle said there were no signs of trees being twisted, one of the signs of a tornado. He said it was unlikely the incident would be investigated further.
Regardless of whether the damage was caused by a tornado or strong wind, neighborhood
residents were relieved the results weren’t any worse, especially as it happened so quickly.
“I was sitting on the front porch, just enjoying the breeze,” Brooke Right said. “And then, all of a sudden, it started pouring and then in a split second the trees were just falling. I didn’t get any warnings on my phone.”
Damage was also reported in other areas of the county including Price, Poplar Springs, Browns Bridge and Mathis roads along with Atlanta Highway at Wallace Road, Cagle said.
Jackson EMC reported outages were centered in the Oakwood area, northwest Hall County along Dawsonville Highway near the county line and in Braselton. Georgia Power had outages in the Oakwood area. Around 5,000 people were without power at the height of the storm.
Hall County School Superintendent Will Schofield said there were power outages at Johnson High School, Chicopee Woods Elementary School and Da Vinci Academy, and that elementary school dismissals in the southern part of the county were delayed.
“At school, it was thundering and raining,” said Devon Ferguson, a fourth-grade student at Martin Technology Academy of Math and Science. “Then it started off pouring and the wind was blowing. When we went by on the buses, we saw a lot of trees down.”
The National Weather Service has predicted a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms for today, as well as for Friday.