Winds send debris flying

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- A tornado-like storm passed through parts of Lee County Saturday night felling trees, wrecking a maintenance shed and damaging school property.

"It passed over at about 6 p.m. It was rotating round and round about 500 feet above the station," said Lee County Fire department Lt. Alan Harris. "We started getting emergency calls and it sounded like a freight train going over. No one was injured."

Harris and another firefighter stood outside 342 Leslie Highway Fire Station 1 and described the howling ferocious storm that passed over more than an hour before.

Red plastic debris gave color to the dark, rotating sky punctuated by lightning Harris said. The damage in the area wasn't major because the funnel didn't touch down until it got to open ground with maple trees, he added.

Before that the whirlwind, firefighters were hesitant to officially call it a tornado, tore up a pool shed at a residence near Kinchafoonee Primary School south of the fire station, wrecked a shed at Lee County Public Works across Leslie Highway and crumpled an awning next door at Lee County High School Ninth Grade Academy.

Then as firefighters took calls and welcomed a mother and her son into the station for shelter -- the swirling winds hop-scotched on the way to Worth County.

"A strong storm passed into Worth County, skimming Lee County around 6 p.m. Saturday," said Don Harrigan from the National Weather Service. "There was some rotation with the storm, but we cannot confirm a tornado yet."