NEWNAN, Ga. (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Saturday toured the wreckage left after a tornado tore through the city of Newnan and other parts of Coweta and Heard counties.
During a press conference at Newnan High School, one of the hardest-hit spots, Kemp said he was committed to helping the community recover, WXIA-TV reported.
“We are going to do everything in our power with the state resources that we have to help this community rebuild,” Kemp said. “But I have great hope and optimism that they (residents) will pull their bootstraps up and we will be there to help them rebuild and continue on.”
The National Weather Service rated the twister an EF-4 tornado and believes winds may have peaked at 170 mph (275 kph) early Friday morning. Houses and other structures had roofs torn off, large trees were completely uprooted — some homes were even moved off their foundations. One person was killed in the storm after experiencing a “medical emergency” while trapped inside their home buried under limbs and debris.
“It is a lot different than anything I’ve ever seen. Just total destruction in many places,” Kemp said.
WXIA Meteorologist Melissa Nord said it’s only the 10th EF-4 twister to hit Georgia since 1950.
Kemp was joined by Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Chris Stallings, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner General John King, Congressman Drew Ferguson, and local officials.
A storm just across the border in Randolph County, Alabama, spawned the tornado that ripped through Newnan. In-person learning will not be held Monday for students and staff at Newnan High, which had the roofs of several buildings ripped off. Debris, including bricks, littered the school grounds Friday.
Coweta County School System Superintendent Evan Horton said they had just finished repairing damage last week from another tornado that hit in October. Horton said the community is strong and they would get through this.
A temporary shelter has been opened at Evans Middle School for anyone who was displaced due to the storm damage.