Tornadoes Kill 11 in Georgia, 2 in N.C.

From Times Wire Services

A tornado ripped apart homes and an empty elementary school Friday as it cut a 10-mile swath through northeast Georgia, killing at least 11 people and injuring 80.

Hours later, two people were killed and 19 were injured when a twister flattened downtown Stoneville, N.C.

The Georgia tornado hit without warning amid powerful thunderstorms about 50 miles north of Atlanta.


Five people were killed in mobile homes near North Hall High School in Hall County, said Elaine Sexton of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Three of the dead, including a 6-year-old boy, came from one family whose mobile home next to the school was demolished.

Across the street from the school, a man whose age was unknown died, apparently from a heart attack, when the storm hit his mobile home. The body of another man, whose identity and age were not released, was found under debris of a home.

“This is probably the scaredest I’ve ever been,” said Rodney Grizzle, who told how his family huddled in a closet that was pulled into the tornado and dropped onto a neighbor’s mobile home 250 feet away.

“We felt ourselves going just deeper and deeper into a hole,” Grizzle said.

A 12-year-old girl and her 51-year-old grandfather died when their mobile home was thrown into a pond.

A 50-year-old produce delivery man died when his truck was thrown into a caretaker’s trailer at Lanier Elementary School, about 9 miles north of Gainesville.


A 10-month-old Clermont boy died after he was taken by helicopter ambulance to Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta.

In addition to those killed by the storm, Bobbie Honney, a Dawson County sheriff’s deputy, was hit and killed by a car when she stopped to help at a storm-related traffic accident in Hall County.

But the news was not all grim. A 2-year-old sucked out of his crib was found hours later covered in mud. Rescuers said he had only minor injuries.

Meteorologists said they had no warning a tornado was on its way.

“There wasn’t even anything on radar,” Sexton said.

Gov. Zell Miller declared a state of emergency in Dawson, Hall, White, Habersham and Rabun counties. He also called up 100 National Guard personnel to search for possible missing people and to help prevent looting.

President Clinton granted federal disaster relief within hours and later sent condolences to the victims’ families.

In the North Carolina storm, police said the downtown area of Stoneville took a direct hit.


Mike French, 37, tried to drive through town but was blocked by debris. “It was like it just came straight down the middle of the road,” he said.

A 24-year-old woman and an 80-year-old man were killed, a hospital spokeswoman said.