In Adairsville, the strange mix of debris in one yard showed just how dangerous the storm had been: a bathtub, table, rolls of toilet paper and lumber lay in the grass next to what appears to be a roof. Sheets of metal dangled from a large tree like ornaments.
"The sky was swirling," said Theresa Chitwood, who owns the Adairsville Travel Plaza. She said she went outside to move her car because she thought it was going to hail. Instead, the passing storm decimated a building behind the travel plaza.
"It sounded like a freight train coming through," she said. "It looks like a bomb hit it."
Adairsville is a small town in the Oothcalooga Valley, with a historic district lined with trees and a mix of pre-Civil War and Victorian homes. It proclaims itself the first Georgia town to be listed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places and looks to draw tourists with its antique shops.
Powerful winds ripped through the entire region, with gusts powerful enough to topple tractor-trailers in several places.
In Adairsville, several were flipped on their side in the parking lot of a gas station and restaurant. Danny Odum, a trucker from Marion, Ill., had stopped for breakfast when the suspected tornado hit. After it passed, Odum said he went outside to find his truck that was hauling diapers on its side with his dog Simon, a Boston terrier, still inside. Simon was scared but otherwise fine.
Bartow County fire chief Craig Millsap said there were reports that two storm warning sirens may have failed, but he said the failed sirens were not in the hardest-hit area.
Access to the area was being restricted, and there was a report of a gas leak in the area, officials said. A shelter was being established at a community recreation center — temperatures were expected to plummet to the 30s and 40s overnight.
Conditions remained ripe for tornadoes into Wednesday afternoon, and authorities were still investigating several sites to determine if damage was caused by twisters. Since Tuesday, the system had caused damage across a swath from Missouri to Georgia.