Tornadoes Rip Through Gilmer County


The severe storms of Monday night, which reportedly killed eight across the south and six in Georgia, left a trail of damage through Gilmer County. Numerous downed trees and utility poles caused power outages and traffic problems, and some residents face property loss and damage from what appear to have been powerful encountered fallen trees blocking the roadway at several locations across Ellijay and southwest Gilmer County. As late as noon Tuesday, police officers were blocking traffic from a very large fallen oak near the intersection of Yukon Road and Eller Road. The tree took down power lines, contributing to the some 147,000 Georgia residents reported to have lost power due to the storms. As of Tuesday morning, other blocked roadways include Highway 5, just south of Ellijay, and Highway 382 West.

A large fallen oak tree on Yukon road Tuesday morning
A tree crossing Highway 5 south of Ellijay

Rich Pospisil took shelter in his basement with his wife and kids as the storms toppled a utility pole and a large tree in front of their Coosawattee-area home. Several large oak trees were upended on the hills behind the Pospisil home, leaving clear evidence of tornadoes.

“Straight line winds just don’t do that”, Rich pointed out, referring to the twisted remains of an eighteen-inch pine near his home.

Rich Pospisil and a large upended oak near his home

For some Gilmer residents, unfortunately, the storm resulted in more than fallen trees and power outages. The Build an Ark animal rescue center, located at the former Eagle Mountain Stables site just off Highway 382 West, lost every structure on its property. The remains of stables, a hay barn, and employee living areas were scattered across the ground and hillside behind the center.

Remains of the Build an Ark animal rescue center

An animal rescue center that offers the company of its sixty animals to special needs children and nursing home patients, Build an Ark is home to everything from horses to doves. Fortunately, none of the center’s residents were killed in the storm, although a few, including a chicken and a ram, were injured.

Susan Littlejohn, who runs Build an Ark, was on the property at the time of the storm. “It’s the strongest thing I’ve ever seen”, she said, going on to describe how she was lifted off her feet by the powerful winds. Mrs. Littlejohn’s cell phone was ripped from her hand as she clung to the stable. Amazingly, as that stable is now a pile of splintered wood, she survived the incident without injury.

Susan Littlejohn and a dove named Mrs. Noah, the last creature to be retrieved from the devastated Build an Ark center

Donations to the non-profit, community-funded Build an Ark center would be greatly appreciated by Susan and her staff. Mrs. Littlejohn can be reached at (706) 974-6060 and donations to the center can be mailed to: 27 Eagle Mountain Drive, Ellijay, GA 30540.

See for up-to-date information on power outages and the latest damage assessments.


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