By Ed Brock
Fletcher Miller looked out his window at just the right moment during Thursday's storm to see a bolt of lightning split a tree, frying a squirrel in its branches.
"I was looking straight at the tree when it happened," said Miller, who lives on Burnside Street in Jonesboro. "I was sitting here rubbing my dog and he jumped. It split right down the middle."
As lightning struck across Clayton County, the humans fared better than the furry critters since there were no reports of humans being struck.
The heavy weather that tore through Clayton County on Thursday knocked out power to 20,000 customers, said John Sell, a spokesman for Georgia Power. Parts of Riverdale and Forest Park were darkened by the storm along with several blocks of Jonesboro as the lightning took out transformers or tree limbs fell across wires.
In one case a car ran into a pole, Sell said, which may or may not have been due to the storm.
Miller and his roommate, Chip Cleveland, did not lose power, but the house next door did.
The lightning bolt that blasted splintered chunks out of the tree across the way traveled into the roots and blew the top off a nearby water meter. The squirrel lay on the ground near the tree, its fur blackened by the fatal stroke.
"(The bolt) knocked pieces all the way up to my garage door," Cleveland said.
One block away on Stewart Avenue Sam Jones and his family sat out on their porch watching the rain as they do with most storms. They had been without power for about one hour.
Jones said he encountered the storm while driving home from work on Interstate 75 near Mt. Zion Road. He came home and warned a neighbor who was in the middle of grilling some food.
"I told him you better get your barbecue on the porch more because we're fixin' to have a storm," Jones said.
The power outages affected several businesses around Jonesboro. At Harvey's Cleaners on North Main Street Hansa Patel was trying to carry on without the aid of their washing machines.
"We try to work because we promised the customers," Patel said. "They're waiting."
The mechanics at Coots' Automotive down the road were idled by the storm.
"We can't do anything without power because most of the tools are power tools," said Pam Coots.