FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Dozens of homes were destroyed when a tornado ripped through a south Fulton County neighborhood on Monday. Now, families are dealing with the devastation left behind.
The National Weather Service believes at least an EF2 tornado hit the Chestnut Ridge subdivision, packing about 120 miles per hour. Meteorologists believe the tornado was on the ground for about a half mile cutting through the neighborhood before crossing Campbellton Fairburn Road.
The 315-yard wide tornado caused significant damage to about 50 two-story homes with the worst damage being along Jumpers Trace between Jodhpur Road and Suffolk Lane. Several homes had their roofs removed, large pieces of walls damaged, and structural debris spread around. Large trees were also snapped and uprooted in the area.
The SKYFOX Drone flew over the neighborhood around noon Tuesday as dozens of residents lined the streets, surveying the damage to their homes.
The subdivision was filled with workers Tuesday trying to board up windows before the cold temperatures moved in late Tuesday evening. With a light rain falling, many were scrambling to cover roofs with tarps before any more damage is done.
"It's like your worst nightmare, you think of it as a dream, but you wake up and it's still the same. so it's not a dream it actually happened," said Venita Mitchell.
Mitchell stood in an upstairs bedroom that is now missing a wall. It was blown off in the fierce wind. She was trying to protect the few belongings she has that were spared from the storm.
"Our thing is to try to save as much as we can. It's stressful because we don't know what's coming next," said Mitchell.
Alicia Lowery lives down the street. She was inside with her family, trying to get to their laundry room to take cover.
"It was crazy, a lot of wind, and it was hitting so hard. We just heard glass shattering, shattering," said Lowery.
Every window in the home is smashed.
"I gotta be strong, if not I’m going to cry," said Lowery.
Thomas Correa lives across the street. He hunkered down in a closet with his wife and pets when the tornado hit.
"The shaking of the house, like we had a giant outside playing with a toy and shaking it," said Correa.
Tuesday, he was told his home can't be saved. He will have to rebuild.
"The only thing I can say, ‘Why me?’ I'm never going to be able to answer that, I'm alive, my wife is okay, are pets are okay, that's good," said Correa.
Khadijah Muhammad toured what was left of her siblings two rooms. The entire side of their home ripped away. She said her brother would have been in his room had it not been for an episode of a television show.
"He was going to go to bed and I said ‘No.’ I said we have to watch it to catch up. He went in my room 20 minutes later... everything shaking," said Muhammad.
They got up, opened his door to see the wall gone.
"If we weren't in that room my little brother in that room he would have collapsed as well," Muhammad said.
Muhammad said they are from New York and have never dealt like anything like this before. She said she saw the warnings but didn't think much of it.
"I'm in disbelief," she said.
April Norman who owns the home is also in disbelief.
"Until you see the real thing you don't get it," said Norman.
So many people Tuesday were still trying to come to terms with what just occurred.
They describe hearing winds, hail, and glass shattering all around them, but somehow everyone survived.
Muhammad said it's only by the Grace of God her family is okay.
"All of us are usually in our rooms. My brother is autistic, so he wouldn't have not what to do. This is a blessing in disguise," said Muhammad.
Tuesday morning, FOX 5's Portia Bruner spoke with one homeowner whose roof was torn off and windows completely shattered during the severe weather.
Another neighbor said the tornado shifted her home two to three inches off its foundation.
"I have no doubt this was a tornado," Ashli Andrews said.
Thankfully, no injuries were reported in the Chestnut Ridge neighborhood.
There were also reports of damage just east of Campbellton Fairburn Road along Winstar Lane. A home there lost part of its roof and several others had damage to shingles and siding.
Other parts of south Fulton also suffered significant damage. On Campbellton Fairburn Road near Demooney Road, emergency crews worked well into the morning Tuesday clearing several trees and blocking off roads due to downed power lines. One family showed FOX 5’s Natalie Fultz their backyard where their brand news full-sized trampoline was lifted up and tossed on top of a playhouse.