Conyers tornado: Families process severe storm damage as cleanup begins

Crews worked through the afternoon Wednesday clearing downed trees and restoring electricity to some 8,000 households that lost power when a powerful EF-2 tornado struck Conyers just before midnight.

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FOX 5 Atlanta met various survivors who live in the area where surveyors believe the tornado touched down. These are their stories:

Tree falls on house while couple sleeps inside

Tijuana Harris' husband woke her up at 12:30 a.m. when a tree fell on their home of 26 years.

"'Get up, we got to go downstairs. Baby, come, come, come on.' Running down the stairs, to the bathroom, to the bathtub," Harris said, recalling her route to safety.

"But we're still here. Thank God," she added.

Severe weather, high winds impact Rockdale County

"While the entire window came out, some of the fixtures on top of the table remained," Corey Hambrick said.

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Corey Hambrick's home.

Right next door along Wolverton Court, it was the wind that did the most damage to Corey Hambrick's home knocking out several windows. But luckily he and his daughters weren't home at the time.

"Something told me, and I call it the Holy Spirit, ‘Corey, let them go with your mom.’ And hours later is when we received this news," Hambrick said.

Disabled Army veteran slept as trees came crashing down on home

"I heard the craziest sound. I didn't know what happened. I heard some wind going back and forth," Terrance Harvell said.

Harvell, a 50-year-old disabled Army veteran, was asleep when the storm passed over his house on Briarwood Road.

He couldn't get out until daylight to see what the storm left behind with multiple trees crushing his home.

"I couldn't comprehend it. I never seen something like this before, even in the military," he said.

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Harvell said he's never seen anything like the damage left behind by an EF-2 tornado that touched down in Rockdale County.

His brother left shortly before the storm hit.

"Something told me he had to go," Harvell said. "Had he not left, his car would be destroyed now."

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The trees by his home, some of the hundreds in the neighborhood, snapped like toothpicks. Dozens of power crews worked all day Wednesday to get power restored.

As cleanup begins, these families are left to find new places to stay. Terrance Harvell is getting help from neighbors right now while he waits for crews to remove trees to get his car safe in the garage.

A roofer who helped survey damage after the tornado created a GoFundMe to help raise funds to help Harvell get by.

"It's going to be rough. It's going to be a rough few days, I think, until I get out of here," Harvell explained.

Rockdale County tornado: Car crushed, tree narrowly misses house

Doreen Williams rode out the storm in her basement.

A tree fell on her daughter's car, narrowly missing the house.

"My daughter's car is under all the debris, but it's just inches away from our house, so we didn't get any damage to the house," Williams told FOX 5's Deidra Dukes.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported, but Rockdale County officials said about 30 homes suffered major damage when the twister touched down in the McDaniel Mill area and traveled northeast through Rockdale, crossing I-20 into the Milstead area.

Celia Kurns showed FOX 5 the damage left behind when a huge oak tree crashed through her bedroom ceiling during the height of the storm.

"The tree came down. I went down on the floor, covered my head," Kurns said. "My husband was in the bed, but he got out safely."

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Rockdale County tornado damage north of I-20

Bo Stephens works for a roofing company. He's usually busy following severe weather, but took time off to clear debris and assess the damage to his own home which was struck by a falling tree.

"I've been through a lot of storms, and that one – the wind was blowing so bad, it was howling pretty hard – it kind of scared me, so we definitely took shelter in the closet," Stephens said.

The Salvation Army and Red Cross have dispatched staff to the area to hand out meals and clean up kits. The county opened a shelter Wednesday night for displaced residents.

As of Wednesday afternoon, about 1,000 households were still without power.