Resident: It felt like a 'war zone'
by Jessica Loeding
Apr 06, 2011 | 5094 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City of Cartersville workers clear tree branches from utility lines and Mission Road Tuesday morning after a water oak fell about 10:30.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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A.J. Slinker was soothing his 8-month-old daughter, Jayda, when a tree branch crashed through the window overhead.

"My first thought was trying to take care of my child -- I shielded her with my body," he said, adding he had "just enough time to react."

Slinker's home on Fite Street suffered superficial damage when a massive tree uprooted during Monday night's storms.

The lifelong Bartow County resident said he and the baby were lying in bed about 10:30 p.m. when the limb sent debris flying through the room.

"It felt like a ... war zone," Slinker said. "I didn't get cut. I felt [the glass] hit; [the impact] threw glass and debris and limbs throughout the room."

Water and sewer lines were pulled up when the tree fell, and power was cut off Tuesday morning as a safety precaution. The tree was removed by afternoon.

Monday's storms left six people dead in Georgia, including five who were struck by falling trees. The storms were part of a system that cut a wide swath from the Mississippi River across the Southeast to Georgia and the Carolinas on Monday and early Tuesday.

Slinker said the tree felled by high winds and heavy rain had not concerned him in the four months or so he had lived on Fite Street. Now, he realizes just how lucky he was.

"I'm kinda speechless about the whole thing. It scared me honestly. ... I'm kinda leery of trees now," he said, adding that if the tree had fell just a few feet to the right his story might have had a different ending.

Elsewhere in Bartow County Tuesday, cleanup efforts closed roadways, and crews struggled with trees snapping through midday. In Euharlee, a tree approximately 8 to 10 feet in diameter fell across Covered Bridge Road. Councilman Joe Turner, who was present on the scene, stated that the tree's roots were entangled in a gas line, causing a leak. Euharlee police blocked off a section of the road while the fire department and natural gas crews worked to seal the line and clear the area overnight. 

A decades-old water oak on Mission Road came crashing down about 10:30 a.m., taking power lines and a gas line with it. Crews closed the roadway from Charles Street to Burnt Hickory Road as they cleared the mess.

Sonny Jackson said his father planted the tree in 1937 as part of a decorative pair on the family's farm.

"I was in the office 30 minutes before it fell and then I went to town. My neighbor called and said the tree had fell, and I told them it wasn't April Fool's," Jackson said.

He said the tree's demise was sudden. "There really wasn't anything happening at the time it fell. I guess it just got tired."

Traffic was blocked for some time Tuesday as AT&T worked to repair lines pulled down by a tree at West Cherokee Avenue and Fite and School streets. No damage beyond the lines was reported in that area.

Georgia Power reported almost 5,000 customers in Bartow County were left without power following Monday's weather, including 2,500 in Cartersville and 2,000 in Adairsville. All power had been restored by noon Tuesday.

Bartow County and Cartersville fire departments reported no other downed trees, but BCFD said a home on Red Top Circle was struck by lightning Monday night.