Polk County pelted with string of severe storms

A Georgia DOT employee works on a line where a traffic signal was blown off at the intersection of Lees Chapel Road and the Cedartown Bypass at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on Thursday, March 25, 2021.

Crews worked through the week last week to remove downed trees and continue the process of helping those affected by the March 25 storm that swept through Polk County.

A group led by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Disaster Response Team spread out in the days following the storm to help residents with any damage to their homes as well as delivering generators and supplies donated by area businesses and churches.

The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross initiated efforts to help those affected the most by the storms, which led to widespread power outages and minor flooding.

The most concentrated area where damage occurred was a narrow path from Cason Road along Tuck Street and across Lees Chapel Road just south of downtown Cedartown.

While many eyewitness accounts and preliminary reports from county officials attributed the damage to a possible tornado, the National Weather Service’s Peachtree City office released its public information statement on the storm Tuesday, indicating that the most extreme damage in Polk County was caused by a significant downburst with estimated peak winds at 105 mph.

The service used damage surveys, including the direction trees fell, as well as radar data to confirm the downburst, according to the information statement released last Tuesday. It noted the center of the downburst was located east of Main Street and south of U.S. 278 in Cedartown, leading to the damage along Tuck Street and continuing east beginning around 12:32 p.m.

A secondary, smaller downburst was also indicated in the area of Cedartown High School, where several large trees in Northview Cemetery were toppled and air conditioning units were moved on the roof of the high school’s administration building. The backstop of the school’s baseball field was damaged and the first-base dugout sustained structural damage.

While Polk County Schools had classes canceled for the day after the storms, Superintendent Laurie Atkins praised the district’s employees and local businesses for helping get students back in classes after the weekend.

“The district is grateful for all of the hard work put in this weekend by our maintenance department, Trammell Lawncare, Miller Welding and local volunteers,” Atkins said. “The maintenance department has inspected and secured all HVAC units, tested for the HVAC operation and quality, and repaired roof damages.”

She said there was no severe water damage inside the building and any water that entered the building was immediately cleaned up.

Crews worked to repair the metal poles on the baseball field’s backstop the Saturday after the storms and were able to have it ready for the Bulldogs’ game against Pickens last Tuesday. The first-base dugout has been condemned, however, and will not be able to be used again this season.

No fatalities were reported as a result of the storm, although Polk County EMA Director Randy Lacey said a man sustained a shoulder injury when a tree fell on his house on Lees Chapel Road.

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