E. Cobb takes hard hit
by Lindsay Field
June 15, 2013 12:22 AM | 5383 views | 0 0 comments | 75 75 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Gustafson speaks to Nationwide's large loss claims adjuster Brian Starkey, left, as he shows him the damage from the large pine tree that fell through the center of his east Cobb home during Thursday night's storm.<br>Staff/Laura Moon
Ron Gustafson speaks to Nationwide's large loss claims adjuster Brian Starkey, left, as he shows him the damage from the large pine tree that fell through the center of his east Cobb home during Thursday night's storm.
Staff/Laura Moon
EAST COBB — Homes along Bishop Lake and Country Squire roads in east Cobb were among the most devastated by the Thursday night tornadoes that swooped through Cherokee and Cobb counties.

Although no injuries were reported in Cobb during the storm, one resident cut his head while he was trying to rescue one of his three dogs trapped in his home after it had been cut in two by a tree.

“We were up at the Frankie’s restaurant and it was sunny when we went in and when we came out, I said ‘Holy crap! What happened?’” said 66-year-old Ron Gustafson.

He and his wife, Cathy, hid out at La Madeleine on Roswell Road until the storm passed, then rushed to their home.

“I started getting phone calls and people said my house was hit,” he said. “I got in my truck, came as far as I could (down Bishop Lake Road), then I crawled all through the woods to get to my house.”

When Gustafson got to his home he was astonished to find a large pine tree had crashed through the middle of it, splitting their dining room and bathroom in two.

He ran to the back door to see if his three dogs were OK. He discovered two of them, Alex and Murphy, were fine, but he couldn’t find the third, Amy.

“I saw how everything was crushed in and I feared the worst,” he said.

Gustafson tried to get in through the bedroom window on the side of the house, pulling back the home’s sheet rock, debris and other pieces of furniture but he still couldn’t get in.

He resorted to trying to break into the front door but eventually shattered a window on the front porch of the home and crawled inside.

“I cut my head on the window and you should have seen the blood coming down,” he said. “I said, ‘To hell with it though. I gotta get to my dog.’”

He found her hiding under the couple’s bed, because that’s her “safe place,” Gustafson said.

A neighbor’s son helped him by crawling under the bed to retrieve Amy, and the silky terrier was just fine.

“She’s my good girl and I just thank my lucky stars that we weren’t home when it hit,” he said, realizing that if they were, the tree could have killed them.

They ended up staying in their RV on Thursday night and probably will stay there until either their home is fixed or they can build a new one.

Gustafson said he believes his home of 21 years will be a total loss.

Four trees on one home

Another homeowner, who lives near Gustafson and will be looking to rebuild but asked not to be named, had four trees fall through her home.

“We had just gotten home and were starting to fix dinner and it just got black outside and we could see all the trees moving and then all of a sudden, things started going by (eastward) across (Bishop Lake),” she said.

“There is no lowest point in our home so we just stood there and listened to the trees hit our house,” she said.

Their adult children’s bedrooms were all destroyed on the second story. Since the trees rested on the ceiling above their master bedroom, they decided to sleep in the office on the other end of the house.

“We didn’t want to sleep in that because we thought it would fall on us,” she said.

She and her husband raised their three children in that home and have lived there since 1989. They, too, are looking to rebuild.

“We won’t leave this place, I’ll tell you that,” she said.

It happened in 10 minutes

Just a few doors down from these two residences were longtime neighbors, Jim Stephens, Jane and Don White and Chris Cone, who were all thankful that their homes didn’t sustain damage like their neighbors.

Cone said she watched the turmoil unfold with her husband, son and his girlfriend.

“All of a sudden, it just got so windy across the lake and things were just blowing and you just couldn’t help but stay there and watch,” she said. “Then it got real still and it started pouring rain. By the time we came outside, this is what it was.”

She said it all happened before them in about 10 minutes.

They have lived in their home, which didn’t have any damage, for about 20 years.

“We’ve had trees down, but nothing like this,” she said. “I do think it was a tornado because of the way that the trees were sheared.”

They didn’t learn until Friday afternoon that it was a confirmed EF-1 tornado.

The Whites, who have been married for 62 years, and have lived in their home off Bishop Lake Road since 1985, were lucky to only have to deal with power outages.

“We are very fortunate trees didn’t hit our house,” Jane White said.

A tree from across the street fell into their yard but missed her car.

They hid in their bathroom during the storm and like other neighbors, were waiting for Cobb EMC to come and repair their lines and restore power.

Stephens, who owns 1.7 acres in the area, said this is the worst weather he remembers seeing in his 36 years of living in his home.

“We’ve had tornadoes go over but they’ve never sat here,” he said.
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