A line of storms that moved through the area early Wednesday morning was just a precursor to the violent weather that swept through Wednesday evening.
Wednesday night trees and power lines were reported down throughout the county, specifically in the Adairsville, Cassville and Rydal areas. Tornadoes were reported in the Cedar Creek and Rydal areas. Tornadoes were also confirmed in neighboring Floyd and Polk counties.
Several auto accidents were reported, some serious. A pedestrian was struck by three vehicles in the Mission Road, Burnt Hickory area and died later in the night, the Georgia State Patrol said. Due to high winds, a tractor-trailer was overturned on Interstate 75.
Trees fell across homes, causing injuries to residents. Multiple homes were destroyed on Law Road and Highway 293. Before the second wave of storms hit the county Wednesday night, 3,000 residents were without power, according to Georgia Power.
Emergency personnel remained busy through the night, with units seeking shelter in the worst of the storms.
"I don't have time to talk to anybody," Bartow County Fire Chief Craig Millsap said about 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday morning's weather knocked down trees and power lines, mostly in a portion north of Cartersville.
Bartow County Fire Department Sgt. Tim Patterson said the agency responded to calls in Adairsville, White and Cartersville Wednesday morning. A tree fell on power lines in Adairsville and downed lines created "a mess" off Richards Road in White.
In Cartersville, several trees feel on a house off Grassdale Road. No one was injured, but the residents have been removed from the home pending the evening's storms, Patterson said.
Cartersville Fire Department reported no activity from the morning's thunderstorms.
The system laced with tornadoes spread destruction Tuesday night and Wednesday from Texas to Georgia. An earlier flare-up of storms this week had already killed 10 people in Arkansas and one in Mississippi.
Severe storms in northwest Georgia downed trees, blew out windows in a hospital and tore off part of a school roof.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency reported four injured in Floyd during the morning round of weather, along with 157 homes and 13 businesses damaged. One person was killed in Trenton, GEMA reported.
GEMA: Preparation is Key to Surviving Violent, Unpredictable Storms
Tornadoes have delivered death and destruction to Georgia and in recent years, numerous tornado records have been broken in our state. For instance, Hurricane Katrina brought 18 tornadoes to Georgia in 2005, the most tornadoes ever reported in a single day in August. In March 2008, the first tornado in Georgia's history touched down in downtown Atlanta.
Most recently, severe storms struck a Buford community on Nov. 30, 2010, and spawned an EF-2 tornado that packed winds of 130 mph and devastated a neighborhood, resulting in more than $5 million in damages. During the storm, dozens of buildings, trees and power lines were damaged, leaving at least 1,500 without power. Residents were urged to leave their homes for the night for their own safety.
"March 1 marked the beginning of Georgia's official tornado season, and we want to ensure that all residents are prepared for the violent nature of tornadoes," said Charley English, Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)/Homeland Security director. "Tornadoes are a real threat in Georgia, no matter where in the state you live."
Tornadoes are most destructive when they touch ground, and normally a tornado will stay on the ground for no more than 20 minutes. However, one tornado can touch ground several times in different areas with severe wind speeds uprooting trees and structures and turning harmless objects into deadly missiles, all in a matter of seconds.
One of the best ways to prepare for tornadoes and other emergencies is to visit GEMA's Ready Georgia campaign website - www.ready.ga.gov - and create an online profile to generate a custom checklist and family communications plan which takes less than an hour. The campaign also offers this information to help residents prepare, plan and stay informed about tornadoes:
Prepare for a Tornado
* Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify tornado hazards: a tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area; a tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area, and you need to take shelter immediately.
* Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.
* Prepare a Ready kit of emergency supplies, including a first aid kit, NOAA Weather Radio and a three-day supply of food and water.
Plan to Take Shelter
* If local authorities issue a tornado warning or if you see a funnel cloud, take shelter immediately.
* Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
* If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
* In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
* Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
* A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
* If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
* Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
Stay Informed about Tornadoes
* Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
* After a tornado, be sure to remain out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines.
* Help injured or trapped people. Check on others who may require special assistance, such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities.
For more information on preparing for severe weather, contact the local EMA or visit www.ready.ga.gov or www.gema.ga.gov.