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Storm causes some damage to area

By Ed Brock

The dying breaths of Hurricane Ivan tattooed Clayton and Henry counties with wave after wave of tropical storm force.

But both counties survived with some damage but no deaths or serious injuries. Meanwhile, the storm has been blamed for four deaths around the state.

At no point during the storm was Al Perkins of Jonesboro actually afraid. On Friday morning he was sweeping up plenty of pine needles and branches with his wife Anna Lou Perkins at their house on Silverthorn Drive.

"I was worried about these pine trees because they're so shallow-rooted, but fortunately none of them came down," Perkins said.

Rain poured down on the area all day Thursday and by afternoon it was coming down in torrents. Between four to six inches of rain fell in Clayton County alone, according to Shirley Lamback with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

Tornado sirens were activated in Jonesboro late that afternoon amid reports that there were tornadoes touching down on Mundy's Mill Road, but that was not the case, said John Dalton, deputy director for the Clayton County Emergency Management Agency.

"There was a thunderstorm that had potential for tornadoes but it didn't develop," Dalton said.

Clayton County got very lucky, said Brenda Bell of Jonesboro who spent Friday morning cleaning up around her parents' house on Argonne Drive in Morrow. They received no damage to their property, and Bell's home on North Avenue also weathered the storm unscathed.

"We count our blessings," Bell said.

Around Clayton County trees fell and many people lost power. About 160,000 customers in the Atlanta area were still out of power Friday morning as a steady drizzle continued to fall, said Georgia Power Lolita Browning.

At 9:30 p.m. Thursday, 10,000 of the Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation's 80,000 customers lost power for a brief time, Snapping Shoals EMC spokeswoman Connie Cook said. The EMC serves an eight-county area that includes Henry. The area with the most damage was reported in the Ellenwood area, in extreme northern Henry County, said Cook.

Wires were pulled down by falling limbs and trees.

"There's been so much rain lately that the ground is so saturated the wind just pulls them down," she said. "We've got some broken poles, too."

By Friday morning, less than 350 EMC customers were without power in the service area.

In the early morning hours on Friday some neighborhoods around Clayton County had to be evacuated. Dalton said eight people from six houses along Roxbury Drive had to be sheltered at the Morrow Municipal Complex on Morrow Road.

Also, 32 people had to be rescued by boat from Edmondson Mobile Home Park on Tara Boulevard north of Jonesboro, but only four choose to go to the Morrow shelter.

"Most people, if they have friends and relatives, will go there because it's more comfortable for them," Dalton said.

The Morrow Fire Department also responded to about 27 other calls Thursday.

"It seemed to range from floods to alarms," said Morrow Fire Department Lt. Carl DeMarco, who added that the shelter at city hall would remain open all weekend.

The city of Morrow also called on its Citizens' Corps, including the Volunteers In Police Service and Citizens' Emergency Response Team, for help in the storm, Morrow Police Chief Charlie Sewell said.

Sewell said that the volunteers watched over downed power wires and directed traffic, freeing up police officers for other duties. They also served as "ambassadors" for the city at the shelter in city hall.

As for injuries, Dalton said the only one he knew of was a man who suffered a cut on his head from a falling tree limb.

Flooding was reported in Hampton, Stockbridge and McDonough and there were trees and lines down but no major power outages, said Henry County 911 Director Don Ash.

There were no bad traffic accidents reported.

"People are using caution and following safe driving suggestions," Ash said.

Ash also said that there were no confirmed tornadoes in the county.

In Hampton flooding was reported on Sydney Court, Jeriana Drive, Rosenwald Drive, Oak Street, McDonough Street and Woolsey Road, Hampton Police Sgt. Choya Barber said.

Tree fell across all lanes of northbound U.S. Highway 19/41, blocking traffic for 30 minutes while crews worked to clear it.

There were no power outages and no crashes in Hampton, Barber said.

"Surprisingly, we had no crashes," he said. "The traffic was light. I guess everyone was staying home."

The storm was "not bad," said Locust Grove police Detective Alvin Bearden, with no serious flooding but some trees down.

"We're losing a lot of old oaks at City Hall and I think that's a shame," he said.

Elsewhere in Georgia flash flood carried the girl from the front yard of her mobile home Thursday evening in Cleveland, said William Wright, emergency management director for White County.

Her 17-year-old sister grabbed her, but then the teen also got caught in the current, Wright said. She screamed for help, and a neighbor pulled the older girl from the water.

But the 6-year-old was already pulled into a storm drain, Wright said.

The child's name was not immediately released.

Another person was killed when as many as five small tornadoes hit Franklin County, said Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokesman Buzz Weiss. The woman died when a tree fell on her car, said Franklin County 911 Director Jones Beasley. The tornadoes also destroyed the county emergency medical services facility.

A utility worker was killed when he was electrocuted while making repairs caused by the storm in Towns County, according to GEMA spokesman Ken Davis. Candles ignited a fire that killed a fourth person in Harris County, GEMA said.

North Georgia's Gilmer County saw significant flooding, said Lisa Ray, spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. Much of the county was under water, she said.

"There have been some motor homes that have floated off," Ray said.

The Red Cross opened 15 shelters around the state Thursday night, which housed more than 200 people who were escaping flooding and high winds, Ray said.

By Friday afternoon the weather had turned partly cloudy and breezy. That weather is expected to continue through Saturday and by Sunday there will be a 30 percent chance of rain, Lamback said.

There is a possibility that the remains of Ivan could circle around and hit the state again at the beginning of the week, said NWS meteorologist Von Woods.

"I don't necessarily follow that trail a whole lot right now," Woods said. "We just don't know."

At Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, there was not a significant number of stranded passengers because most travelers were aware the storm was coming, said airport spokeswoman Lanii Thomas.

While Ivan spins northward, Tropical Storm Jeanne hovered over the Dominican Republic on Friday, tearing off roofs and triggering mudslides. Jeanne was threatening to regain hurricane strength as it headed toward the Bahamas, on a track for the Southeastern United States, where it could hit anywhere from Florida to the Carolinas.

Staff writers Justin Boron and Kathy Jefcoats and the Associated Press contributed to this article.