Zeta leaves at least 3 dead in North Georgia

At least three people were killed as Tropical Storm Zeta moved through North Georgia Thursday morning.

Gwinnett County police said two people died after a tree fell onto a house in the 500 block of Garner Street on the corner of Jones Road in Buford around 12:30 p.m. Thursday. The brother of the man who lives there called 911 and said he couldn't reach his brother by phone.

According to Gwinnett County Fire, the tree fell over the bed pinning the occupants. Crews were working to devise a plan to remove the tree and recover the bodies. 

From SKYFOX 5, one can see where the huge tree trunk landed after it split and crashed through the roof of a home. Inside, a man and a woman were trapped in a bedroom.

"The police department and fire department both responded and when they went inside they located a male and a female dead, apparently from a tree falling on them overnight or early this morning," said Gwinnett County Cpl. Collin Flynn.

Authorities have not yet released the name of the man and woman who died. Firefighters had to work with a tree removal crew to stabilize the trunk and the structure before they could recover the couple's remains.

"The couple was in the bedroom, likely asleep at the time unsuspecting that that tree could even fall and end their lives," said Gwinnett County Fire Captain Tommy Rutledge. "Most of the calls about downed trees and power lines started coming in around four this morning, but we just don't know what time this tree came down. This is just a sad situation for this family and this community."

In Cherokee County, a man was killed after a tree crashed onto a mobile home on Bells Ferry Road. A total of four people, including a child, were in the home at the time the tree fell. 


Zeta swept through metro Atlanta and north Georgia in the early morning hours, bringing damaging winds and heavy rainfall, causing trees to fall on interstates and major roads throughout the area. At one point the storm left over 2 million Georgians without power. 

Morning rush-hour commuters in Atlanta had to dodge downed trees and navigate their way past signals with no power. Trees blocked lanes on two interstates, the Georgia Department of Transportation said.

Northwest of Atlanta in Marietta, many stoplights were out and police directed traffic at a busy intersection. One residential street was covered by mix of campaign signs, amber leaves and limbs tossed by the storm. A few streets away, Billy Murdock was out picking up branches in his yard.

“It’s the worst storm I’ve been through in Atlanta,” he said.

Crews were still working Thursday afternoon to remove trees off of area roads and restore power.

A Category 2 hurricane when it hit the southeastern Louisiana coast Wednesday, Zeta was still a tropical storm late Thursday morning with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph) about 100 miles (155 kilometers) northeast of Asheville, North Carolina — unusual even in a region accustomed to hurricanes and their aftermath.

Some voting places were affected and hundreds of schools canceled classes or planned to open late across from the Gulf Coast to the Carolinas. Widespread power outages occurred across seven states from Louisiana to the south Atlantic seaboard. Some places could be in the dark for days.

Officials said life-threatening conditions would last into the day, with Zeta crossing the mid-Atlantic states as a tropical storm before moving offshore around Delaware and southern New Jersey.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.