Conyers tornado: Survivor recounts miraculous encounter with EF-2 tornado

Dozens of Rockdale County families spent Thursday cleaning up from the damage that an EF-2 tornado left in its wake, late Tuesday night. 

Carolyn Gillman says she was sitting in the living room of her childhood home when she noticed something strange. "It was an odd way about the lights flickering on and off," Gillman shared.  

She says a gut instinct drove her to go shelter in the bathroom. "Better safe than sorry, right?" she recounted. 

Gillman says about 5 minutes later, disaster struck. "It was this freight train sound, like I was inside this black hole," she described. "It’s unreal, the sound and the feeling and the pressure." 

A tree split her living room basically in half in the exact spot where she was sitting just moments earlier. "We would have been dead," she exclaimed. 

Cleanup crews spent most of Thursday removing exterior debris and a giant tree that fell on her house.  


Other helping hands arrived in the area as well. From Red Cross, to Lowe's, and fellow neighbors, many showed up to hand out snacks, bottled water and other supplies.  

For longtime resident Susan Thomas, it was tough to see these neighborhoods damaged by the twister. 

Through tears, she shared, "Pretty sad to see my whole subdivision like this. I'm just grateful a lot of people are alive. I haven't seen a tornado hit Rockdale like this since 1973." 

More than a half a century later, mother nature once again left her mark on this tightknit community. Gillman believes she was touched by divine intervention. "I’m alive today and thank the Lord," she said.  

Gillman and her boyfriend say they both received emergency alerts moments before the tornado swept through, but Gillman's best friend says he did not. 

Rockdale County Emergency Management says it is working with state warning experts to collect more information about why some Rockdale County users did not receive the cell phone alert. FOX 5 reached out to the agency for comment and has not yet heard back.