“It really makes your bad days seem not so bad,” Gottschalk said, as a tree removal service fired up chainsaws inside her home, cutting the large tree that fell next to her 11-year-old son’s bunk beds.
Gottschalk went to bed Thursday night aware of the forecasts calling for strong storms but didn’t expect what would happen next as the quick, but destructive, thunderstorm moved through Cobb.
She awakened to the sounds of tree limbs knocking against her window about 4:45 a.m., then slamming against the side of her home at the corner of Oak Knoll Drive and Cross Gate Drive near Sope Creek.
Then it was “just kaboom,” Gottschalk said.
A pine tree had fallen through the roof of the bedroom where her son Tanner slept, landing just inches away from his head.
The tree blocked the entrance to his bedroom, sending her into a panic.
“I couldn’t find my son,” Gottschalk said. “I was just screaming ‘Tanner, Tanner, Tanner.’”
Gottschalk’s 14-year-old daughter, Lexi, was safe in her bedroom next door, but Tanner was nowhere to be found. It seemed like 45 minutes had passed, Gottschalk said, but in reality it was more like minutes.
“The next thing I knew he was in her room,” Gottschalk said.
She won’t soon forget the look on his face.
“There was just blood everywhere,” Gottschalk said. “I mean, you couldn’t even see his skin.”
Tanner escaped with only minor injuries and received 12 stitches on the crown of his head.
“We’re very lucky he’s even alive,” Gottschalk said.
Lexi kept her calm, Gottschalk said, and called 911 for an ambulance.
“She loves her brother and she was like, ‘I’m going in the ambulance,’” she said.
Tanner was released from the hospital later Friday afternoon. Gottschalk said her son has been alert, coherent and joked with an EMT about AMC’s television show “The Walking Dead.”
“It makes you really think about listening to those weather warnings,” Gottschalk said.
Damage not caused by tornado
Friday morning’s thunderstorm brought a half inch of rain overnight but its straight-line winds reached 58 mph.
The National Weather Service in Peachtree City said no tornado was reported in Cobb, but some residents say the storm felt like a cyclone.
“We looked back over radar data and there wasn’t really anything that would have indicated a tornado or anything,” said Ryan Willis, weather service meteorologist.
Michelle Sollicito of Marietta said she grabbed her children from their beds and sought shelter in their bathroom after watching the winds toss her garbage cans across her yard.
“Suddenly as I went up the stairs I saw through the window our trash cans went up in the air and all the trees were bending around in different directions and the wind sounded like a really loud whooshing like a jet plane,” Sollicito said. “At the same time, the power went out and I heard a big explosion and saw a big blue flash of light — seemed like either a big transformer blew or a big tree landed on some power lines or substation or something.”
Just south of the Marietta Square, Beth Hall’s late ’90s Mazda MPV was hit by a falling tree limb, shattering her windshield and crushing the hood of the car parked outside her home at Atlanta Street Apartments.
Hall is unemployed and she said the vehicle is her only way to get out and look for a job.
“At 4:50 a.m. I looked at my phone because I was startled out of my sleep and first I thought it was another one of those little earthquakes,” Hall said, referring to the magnitude-4.1 earthquake in South Carolina last weekend that was felt across metro Atlanta.
Winds bring down power lines
Some power providers said Friday’s winds caused more damage than the ice storm that moved through Cobb a week ago, leaving thousands without power.
Thousands of Cobb residents were without power at some point early Friday though most outages were corrected quickly.
Eastside Christian School canceled classes because of a power outage after a tree fell across Lower Roswell Road, taking a power line down, said Tim McDaniel, athletic director for the private school with classes from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Tom Bell, power director for the Marietta Board of Lights and Water, said as of about 4:45 a.m. Friday almost 6,000 customers were without power.
“We got that cleared up. As of about 8:40 a.m., we had about 67 people and everybody’s back on now,” Bell said.
Outages were much higher than the 500 seen during last week’s ice storms, which Bell attributes to the thunderstorm’s high winds.
“It actually did more damage than the ice storm did,” Bell said.
At Cobb Electric Membership Corp., winds made for more outages in a short period of time, said Leslie Thompson, spokeswoman for the power provider.
About 3,500 Cobb EMC customers were without power early Friday morning, but about 3,000 of those were restored within 30 minutes. About 3,000 Cobb EMC members lost power during last week’s ice storm.
As of 10:50 a.m. Friday, only 33 EMC customers were without power in Cobb.
Georgia Power reported 9,900 outages across its four-county west metro service area that includes Cobb, Douglas, Paulding and Cherokee counties. About 700 customers were still without power as of 11 a.m. Friday.