Board member Mark Dickerson presenting the history and accomplishments of the past 20 years.
By Vered Kleinberger
The Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia (MCTGA) hosted its 6th Annual Spring Celebration this past Saturday, April 30. Members enjoyed a beautiful sunny day on the shores of Grandview Lake, feasted on delicious food and reconnected with friends and neighbors.
MCTGA is commemorating its 20th anniversary this year, so the Spring Celebration provided the perfect atmosphere for continuing the festivities. Board Chairman Roger Schultz welcomed the crowd of members and guests and thanked the Grandview community for their efforts in making the Celebration a success.
Longtime MCTGA member and current Board member Mark Dickerson presented the history and accomplishments of the past 20 years. The trust had humble beginnings....a group of residents who were concerned with preserving the beautiful places in our region began meeting and discussing available options. Burnt Mountain was in danger of being logged, which would have been unsightly, but would also negatively impact water quality and wildlife corridors. They were successful in conserving this property, which is now known as the Burnt Mountain Preserve. This led to the formation of the Oglethorpe Wilderness Land Trust, later to be renamed the Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia. To date, more than 2,000 acres have been preserved in North Georgia through the efforts of the dedicated Board and staff of MCTGA. For a comprehensive history of MCTGA, please see their most recent newsletter, available on their Web site, www.mctga.org.
County officials surveying the storm hit areas of Pickens County had identified more than 100 homes that were damaged. As of late Thursday, 18 were already considered totally destroyed with another 40 still not assessed. It was estimated that 40 percent of those affected had insurance.
Above, residents on Bryant Road begin clean-up work in an area one emergency worker termed, "devastation."
Residents, neighbors, and contractors begin cleaning up from a massive storm that swept through Georgia Wednesday night. In the above home on Henderson Mountain Road, four people were trapped for more than 30 minutes until emergency crews could get them out. A relative of one of the residents said another part of the house was "just gone."
Hotline established for storm reports
Fire Chief Bob Howard said this morning that there were no significant injuries or missing persons reported in Wednesday night's storm.
The extent of the damage to homes, however, remained unknown. The worst hit area in Pickens County with the massive storms that swept across the south was described as Jerusalem Road to Bryant Road to Childers Lane (off of Henderson Mountain Road).
“This is not a densely populated area,” Howard said. “We’re still assessing the damage to structures.”
Howard was scheduled for a flyover in a GSP helicopter later this morning.
He said emergency personnel did a sweep of the area that was completed at 2 a.m. and found no significant injuries or reports of missing persons.
Howard said he knows of damage to several mobile homes and chicken houses in the area.
Howard said reports from utility companies indicate 1,900 homes without power in Pickens County. He said as of Thursday morning, there is no indication of when they may have power restored. He said the scope of the storm will create problems getting necessary manpower and supplies, such as power poles, to the affected areas.
First reports from across the state indicate that 11 people had been reported killed in Georgia from the tornadoes that hit the hardest to the counties west of Pickens. Gov. Deal has declared some northwest Georgia counties emergency areas.
Hotline – Pickens County has established a hotline to take reports from homeowners of non-emergency storm calls. Howard said this is the place to call to report damage and it will be helpful to their assessment and clean-up efforts. The number is 706-253-1878. He said later in the day the operators there may be able to provide some information, but at this point “the information we have is very limited.”
Power crews are attempting to restore power to more than 1,900 homes in Pickens County without power. No estimation has been given of when they believe service will be restored.
A home in west Pickens shows the effects of the tornadoes which hammered the northwestern corner of the state Wednesday. Advanced warning which pushed many people to take early shelter plus "total luck," according to one emergency official, lead to no significant injuries here in the wake of the violent storms. Photos/ Damon Howell.
By Angela Reinhardt
Thursday morning, residents of the Henderson Mountain Road area surveyed destruction left by tornadoes that ripped through part of west Pickens overnight, destroying numerous homes and flattening three chicken houses.
Families were out in their driveways at late morning beginning the long process of cleaning up damage, cutting up fallen trees and removing belongings from their mangled homes.
The destructive path of the tornadoes was clearly visible through west Pickens. Hundreds of trees were snapped off at the tops, revealing bright white wood inside.
Officials say Bryant Road, Childers Lane and Henderson Mountain Road were the worst hit areas in the county, but despite extensive damage, no serious injuries have been reported.
According to Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Captain Frank Reynolds, it was “total luck” no one was seriously hurt or killed in the storm that struck in waves Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
County Road crews move concrete barriers into place Monday on Cove Road where a rockslide stopped traffic April 16.
Commissioner Rob Jones said the barriers should increase safety along the S-curves section of road. No other work is planned at this point, but the commissioner noted the steep rocky roadbed is not unique for North Georgia or the southern Appalachians.
“It was designed and installed by the state DOT in 1964. It’s as safe as it ever was,” he said. “It is what it is.”