Descriptions of the Top Ten US Killer Tornadoes--#5
#5: The Gainesville Tornado
A massive pair of tornadoes moved east-northeast through downtown Gainesville, Georgia, at the start of the work day. This event consisted of two large funnel clouds which struck the city of Gainesville after a smaller tornado hit north of town. The course of one of the funnels led into the city from the southwest, just west of the Atlanta highway. The other came in from the west along the Dawsonville highway. These two paths came together west of Grove Street, and a four-block-wide area was laid waste across the entire city, beyond which separate courses of destruction appeared again. The wreckage was astounding, with debris filling the streets up to 10 feet deep. About 750 houses were destroyed and 254 were badly damaged. Damage totalled $12,500,000. The largest death toll in a single building for any US tornado occurred at the Cooper Pants Factory. The multi-story building, crowded with young workers, collapsed and caught fire, killing about 70 people. At the Pacolet Mill, the funnel was seen in the southwest, and the 550 workers ran to the northeast corner of the building, thus averting an even greater tragedy. Many people, especially high school students, sought shelter in Newnan's department store. The building collapsed, killing about 20 people. The wreckage was so deep and swept by fires that it was not possible to determine how many people were killed in which buildings. At the time that the 203 person death toll was listed, 40 persons were still missing. In the downtown area, few buildings were swept away, as the multi-story businesses and factories were blown over or collapsed. Letters from Gainesville, Georgia were dropped onto Anderson, South Carolina. $13,000,000.
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