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Warren County area hit hard by storm; McDuffie escapes wrath

WARRENTON, Ga. - A series of thunderstorms - some packing strong, gusting winds, heavy rain and vivid lightening - are blamed for destroying at least one mobile home and causing considerable damages to another residential dwelling last Wednesday night. There were even reports that a tornado touched down in portions of Warren and Hancock counties.

Even though a tornado was spotted about 30 miles north of Thomson in Wilkes County, those living in McDuffie County were spared from any damages, McDuffie County Emergency Management Agency Director Bruce Tanner said. That particular storm stayed north, causing considerable damages in Wilkes County.

Additionally, a number of trees were either uprooted or toppled during the intense storms that roared across Baker, County Line and Touslon roads, according to Warren County Emergency Management Agency Director Tommy Wolfe.

There were no deaths or reports of injuries.

Just a few miles away in neighboring Hancock County, near Sparta, one person was killed and three others injured, authorities said. The man killed was identified as Johnny Frank Baker, according to Hancock County Coroner Alexander Ingram. Mr. Baker died after his house in the Culberton Community was destroyed by what authorities say was a possible tornado.

Mr. Brown's death was the only one associated with last week's storms that roared across Georgia into South Carolina, authorities said. The storms also left 22 persons injured in Georgia.

That same storm later traveled along Shoals Road into Warren County, where it caused considerable damages not far from the Jewell Community, off Georgia Highway 16.

"We were very fortunate that no one was killed and no one injured," Chief Wolfe said. "The concern now is getting these people back on their feet with assistance and cleaning up the debris from the storm."

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency in four of the counties hit hardest by the storms last week. Those counties include Warren, Hancock, Jasper and Thomas, according to a press release.

Officials in those counties sought emergency assistance after they determined that the removal of storm debris exceeded their capabilities from a local standpoint.

"We extend our thoughts and prayers to the family of the deceased and to those who were hurt," Gov. Perdue said.

The governor's executive order, which was sent out last Friday, will allow state personnel and equipment to be used to assist local officials with clean-up operations. Those operations will be coordinated through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA).

"As with all disasters, GEMA will coordinate the deployment of state agencies, utility companies and the volunteer organizations to meet the needs of our citizens, GEMA Director Charley English said.

Assessment teams were busy over the weekend continuing to determine the actual "full scope" of the damages to businesses, residences and public infrastructure in the four hardest hit counties in Georgia. GEMA officials are receiving assistance from the U.S. Office of Homeland Security, Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Department of Defense and the Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner's Office.

Web posted on Thursday, February 26, 2009

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