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Tornado over downtown Atlanta
ATLANTA TORNADO: THE AFTERMATH: LANDMARKS TAKE A HIT
Downtown twister wreaks havoc on historic cemetery, skyscrapers, arenas, hospitals and even a barbershop
By Rhonda Cook, Phil Gast, Paul Kasko, S.A. Reid,
Michelle E. Shaw, Leon Stafford, Gayle White
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/16/08 Centennial Olympic Park. Two of the "Hermes Towers" - the 65-foot-tall light towers that resemble giant Olympic torches - were blown down at the park.
CNN Center/Omni Hotel. The roof of the CNN Center was damaged, and water from storms reached the atrium floor several stories below. The atrium area was closed Saturday morning. Dozens of windows of the Omni Hotel were shattered or pulled from their frames by the storm's force.
Ebenezer Baptist Church. Tree limbs and other debris were blown in from other areas, but no damage was reported by officials connected to the historic church.
Equitable Building. Numerous windows on all sides of the Peachtree Street building were broken out. Strong winds sucked white blinds out of some openings and whipped them around. Some shattered windows were patched with what appeared to be white fabric. Large pieces of metal siding occupied the sidewalk near a ground-floor business, Flowers by Lucas.
Georgia-Pacific Building. The windows were shattered on three sides of the building at Peachtree and Forsyth streets, and curtains in upper-floor windows could be seen swaying in the wind. The area around the building was roped off for at least 10 yards because of broken glass dangling six stories up. Workers in hard hats were working to secure the building despite the danger.
Georgia World Congress Center. There was damage across the campus, including roof and water damage to the convention center. Katy Pando, spokeswoman for the GWCC, said the building was hit by both rainwater and water from the sprinkler system and damaged pipes inside the building. She said there were injuries, but none were serious.
Grady Hospital. At least two historic buildings in the hospital complex suffered moderate damage and 17 of 18 buildings lost power, officials said. A few windows were blown out of the cafeteria in the main hospital where inpatients are treated, but the building retained power. Georgia Hall, the original home of the 115-year-old hospital, lost windows and a chimney, said Craig Tindall, Grady's interim chief operating officer, and there was some water damage inside. Three ambulances - including Grady's only operating neonatal transport unit - were out of commission Saturday because of storm damage.
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. The center was pummeled by rain but there were no signs of flooding or building damage.
Martin Luther King Center. Rich Klima, park ranger with the National Parks Service, said the national historic site escaped major damage.Oakland Cemetery. Dozens of trees and old monuments were toppled by the storm. "We took a big hit," said Sam Reed, sexton, or caretaker, of the property. He estimated that 50 or 60 old trees, including the oldest crape myrtle, were down. Many more, including ancient magnolias, were damaged and may have to be removed. The 100-year-old ladies comfort station that was under renovation was split in two by a tree. Winds also tossed headstones and obelisks. The 20-foot obelisk for the Winship family was toppled from its platform and had broken in half across a paved path. Metal from the nearby train tracks, paper from nearby offices and other trash littered the grounds. A shredded window blind was draped like a necklace around the marker for James L. Bell, a Confederate soldier who died in 1918.
Philips Arena. There was no discernible exterior damage, but officials canceled Saturday night's Winter Jam Spectacular. The event won't be made up.
SunTrust Building. Mangled blinds dangled out of broken windows on one side of the high-rise building. The building's entrance area, damaged by the storm, was boarded up Saturday morning.
Tabernacle. The 98-year-old Atlanta landmark took a severe hit: Windows were blown out, the roof was "severely" damaged and a water pipe broke. "We're pretty much messed up," said building manager Eric Snoddy. "It's going to be awhile before we reopen, but it looks like we survived better than some places."
Ted's Montana Grill. A downtown Atlanta penthouse belonging to the owner, philanthropist and media mogul Ted Turner, was damaged. Turner was not in the residence at the time. Ed Bazor, director of construction for Ted's, said one person suffered a minor cut from shattered glass. Bazor said the building had at least $25,000 in damage. Workers were patching windows Saturday so the restaurant could reopen.
Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel. The sidewalks below the landmark cylindrical high-rise were littered with yellow insulation, broken glass and pieces of metal Saturday morning. Several windows were blown out.
Walton Building barbershop. The police officers and firefighters who get their hair cut at this historic snip shop may have to find a new barber. The barbershop, facing Cone Street, suffered major damage. Large plate-glass windows were blown out and pieces of the drop ceiling sagged inside.
CHARLES W. JONES / Staff DOWNTOWN ATLANTA TORNADO A tornado warning was issued Friday night at about 9:30. When it touched down eight minutes later, it became the first tornado on record to hit downtown Atlanta. Tornado's estimated touchdown The EF-2 twister left debris along a 6-mile stretch and was as wide as 200 yards with wind gusts up to 135 mph. Damaged areas: Georgia Dome, Georgia World Congress Center, CNN Center, Centennial Olympic Park, Tabernacle, Ted's Montana Grill, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Philips Arena, Walton Bldg. barbershop, Equitable building, Georgia Pacific, SunTrust, Georgia State University, Grady Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph's Mercy Clinic, Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts Need assistance? The Red Cross has two help stations to assist displaced residents. * Helene Mills recreation center, 515 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. * Central Park recreation center, 400 Merritts Ave. Map of downtown Atlanta shows path of the tornado relative to landmarks. Inset map outlines area of detail relative to metro Atlanta. Sources: Fulton County Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service.