Conyers tornado: How Rockdale County is battling devastation

Rockdale County is still trying to recover from the powerful tornado that barreled through the area. The twister toppled trees, ripped apart roofs, tore down power lines, and left destruction in its wake. Some people lost their homes. They’re cleaning up. And they’re getting a hand from the Red Cross. 

Carolyn Gilman was sitting in her living room, watching the lightning when she got a warning on her phone. "Watch out for tornadoes," Gilman said. "It turned into a nightmare real quick." 

She heard a terrifying noise she’ll never forget. "I heard the most unreal sound I have ever heard in my entire life, like a black hole, like a freight train," Gilman said. 

Then she heard a tree crashing through her roof. "That big old tree that was there since I was very young. I used to climb that tree, came crashing through the living room," Gilman said. 

Gilman is one of scores of homeowners in Conyers picking up after a powerful tornado blasted their community. "I was thankful to be alive," she said. 

Gilman wasn’t sure where to turn for help. "It’s an insane feeling. Sometimes you don’t know what you need," Gilman said. 


Mikkita Dean is a disaster program manager with the Red Cross. "I am here to provide assistance, I’m here to provide hope," Dean said. 

The relief agency fans out, dispatching volunteers to help victims with food, water, shelter, even mental-health counseling when disaster strikes. "Anything we can do for them. We try to empathize with them as much as possible," said Odell Lewis, a volunteer manager with the Red Cross. 

"They were like ‘I know what you need. You need food, you need water, you need shelter. Do you have these things?" Gilman said. 

Gilman says Red Cross volunteers gave her help she didn’t even realize she needed. "When you’re in any kind of state of emergency, sometimes you don’t know what you need, you don’t know what’s going on around you," she said. "There’s goodness in this. Good people." 

Gilman says the Red Cross gave a care package with food, water and hand sanitizers. She’s now staying with family. 

If you want to help or need help after this storm, contact the Red Cross at or call 800-RED-CROSS.