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Strong storm downs trees, hits area with power outages
Wind gusts of 63 miles an hour hit Dawson County
Gainesville Fire Department firefighters climb to the roof of the Interactive College of Technology on Browns Bridge Road to inspect the roof during Monday afternoon’s heavy rainstorm. An initial report indicated the roof collapsed, but it turned out to be ceiling tiles had fallen from the leaking roof and nobody was injured

Nearly 4,000 Hall County homes lost power Monday as a severe storm swept through the area, knocking down trees and causing scattered damage, officials said.

About 1,900 Hall County homes remained without power late Monday, but electricity was to be restored “hopefully by 1 a.m. (today),” said Georgia Power spokeswoman Konswello Monroe. At the peak of the storm, more than 15,000 Georgia Power customers lost power, she said.

Although the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch, only one funnel cloud was reported in the metro Atlanta area, and it was uncertain if it touched down, said forecaster Alex Gibbs of the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City.

Gibbs said the highest wind gust, which was 63 mph, was reported in Dawson County. The Gainesville area was spared the high winds, but 0.87 inches of rain fell from 1-7 p.m., he said.

The Gainesville Fire Department responded to an early evening call that “actually came in as a roof collapse with people inside” at Interactive College of Technology, 2323 Browns Bridge Road, said Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada. But it turned out ceiling tiles fell from a leaky roof and everyone had evacuated the building, he said.

Traffic lights and stores along Dawsonville Highway and in other areas of the county lost power, said Col. Jeff Strickland, spokesman for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

The storm knocked down trees across roads that included Mount Vernon, Cool Springs, Clarks Bridge, County Line and JM Turk as it swept from Gainesville to Flowery Branch, Strickland said.

High winds and lightning strikes also activated security alarms throughout the county, he said.

Employees standing in drizzling rain outside the Department of Family and Children Services on McEver Road in Gainesville said a tree had fallen into the back side of the building.

Hall County Schools spokesman Gordon Higgins said 11 buses were finishing afternoon routes and were instructed to pull over into a safe area until the thunderstorm subsided.

“It ended about 15 minutes later and the buses continued their routes. All children were taken home safely,” Higgins said.
Conditions are expected to improve after today, with sunny skies in the outlook through Thursday and temperatures in the low 60s.