Severe Weather Awareness Week started out with a bang as warning sirens sounded across a 50-emergency siren network in Cobb County just after 9 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21, 1993. A line of severe thunderstorms blasted the county with marble-sized hail and a tornado that damaged homes and left 7,000 residents without power into much of the night.
The storm that spawned the funnel cloud hit Floyd, Polk, Bartow and Paulding counties before hitting Cobb.
The tornado, confirmed by the National Weather Service, was the second in less than three months and the fifth to hit the county in less than three years. The tornado touched down near Midway Road and Dallas Highway in west Cobb and cut a swatch a mile wide and five miles long before it lifted back into the clouds near Austell and Atlanta roads.
Trees along South Cobb Drive between the U.S. Highway 41 overpass and Barclay Road were twisted or ripped in half. Across U.S. 41, Dobbins Air Reserve Base sustained $200,000 in damages, according to a spokeswoman. Supports for approach lights on the runway were downed by the storm and the base’s picnic pavilion was destroyed. The high winds also twisted road signs on Delk Road between Powers Ferry Road and Interstate 75.
Along Powder Springs Road about two miles from the Marietta Square, the storm hit the Spinnaker Cove and Baltimore Place condominiums and the Powder Springs Station shopping center on the west side of Powder Springs Road and the Natchez Trace apartments on the east side of the roadway.
Allgood, Hill Crest, Fair Oaks and Big Oak trailer parks in south Marietta were also hit hard. Cobb emergency personnel provided transportation for residents of those neighborhoods to an evacuation center that was set up within the Cobb County Civic Center.
Between 100 and 200 people spent the night at the civic center, but only 80 had to be moved the following day to the Fair Oaks Community Center on Barber Road to make way for a scheduled basketball game.
Most of the county’s impacted area was without electrical power and phone service for several hours with downed telephone lines in addition to power cables.
In the Wednesday, Feb. 24, 1993 paper, County Manager David Hankerson was reported as saying that Cobb had asked Gov. Zell Miller to request that President Bill Clinton declare areas of Cobb hit by the tornado a disaster area, qualifying the county for federal assistance. Hankerson said that the tornado had damaged or destroyed 400 structures – including condominiums, apartments, mobile-home parks, a few single-family homes and businesses. The damages were estimated at more than $6.6 million.
County Commission Chairman Bill Byrne and Hankerson were also reported as working on a plan to house victims of future disasters in buildings at the state fairgrounds on Callaway Road.
The county planned to buy cots, beds, blankets and other materials to store at the fairgrounds because all of above materials had to be provided by the local chapter of the American Red Cross in the aftermath of the tornado.
Damon Poirier is the Newsroom Administrator for the Marietta Daily Journal.
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