At Dickerson Automotive on Old Salem Road, unlike other buildings damaged in the storm from falling trees and limbs, it appeared to be the strength of gale-force winds alone that blew out two glass walls and knocked down an interior wall.
Owners Mike Wardingley and Andy Walker received a call around 2 a.m. from their security company. As Wardingley drove into Conyers from Covington, he noticed Ga. Highway 138 was eerily dark with all the street lights and traffic lights out.
He wasn't sure what to expect when he arrived at the business, which had been there for close to 28 years. The police had described the damage as major building collapse.
"I had no idea what they were talking about until I got there," said Wardingley. "It was devastating."
Two adjacent glass-pane walls, which had enclosed the waiting room and merchandise display area, had completely shattered. Ceiling tiles and insulation were ripped out, light fixtures ripped out, and an interior wall that separated the garage and waiting area knocked loose. That tipped over a vending machine into the window of a customer's car in the repair bay - the only car damaged at the shop. A metal sign that had been screwed into the wall was ripped off and blown onto the ceiling. Two 500-pound doors were also ripped off their hinges and blown into the parking lot.
However, a stack of papers on a filing cabinet in that same room was untouched and the books and knick-knacks on a bookshelf were still in their place.
The damage pattern appeared to be caused by what Emergency Management organizer and Rockdale County Sheriff's Office Capt. Myra Pearrell described as a straight-line wind and not a tornado.
No one was injured in this incident.
Walker said the building itself was safe and the damage was insured. Employees and contractors began the work of cleaning, boarding up, and repairing the damage on Tuesday.
(March 5, 9: 57 a.m.) On Ebenezer Road, Jennifer Foster said she had turned off the TV after watching a story on the news about a tree being uprooted and she and her 8-year-old son Cornell Stokes had gone to bed. Around 1 a.m., she heard a loud noise that sounded like a train coming through. After shielding her son during the roar, she went to the living room window to look out only to see branches coming up to the window. But there wasn't supposed to be a tree right at her window.
The 70-foot oak tree in her yard had snapped in half and come crashing down on her roof over the living room.
Luckily, no one was injured. The tree caused what appeared to be minor damage to the side of the house and did not appear to penetrate the roof.
"I'm blessed," she said simply, surveying the house where she had lived most of her life.
For now, Foster and her son are staying next door with her mother as they wait for power crews to come through to repair the lines brought town and tangled in the oak tree.
(March 5, 6:52 a.m.) Trees and wires were reportedly knocked down on Eastview Road near Norton Road, and in the area of White Oak Street, near Old Salem Road.
Homes in the Deer Run subdivision, on Highland Circle near Green Street, and on historic Peek Street were all reportedly damaged by falling trees.
Power was reportedly down near Wal-mart, businesses on Ga. Highway 138, and down to near Heritage High School from about 12:30 a.m. to about 5:45 a.m.
In the Snapping Shoals EMC service area, about 22,000 customers lost power during the night due to branches on power lines and broken power poles. About 13,000 are still without electricity, according to Snapping Shoals EMC spokesperson Leigh-Anne Burgess.
Areas in the South are recovering after fast-moving spring storms packing high winds, hail and lightning blew through the region, killing at least three, uprooting trees and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands including in metro Atlanta.
Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lisa Janak says two people were killed in central Georgia, one when a tree fell onto a home in Butts County. Janak says the other death was in Dodge County. She didn't know the circumstances of the death but said there had been a possible tornado there.
High wind will continue through the morning, and the high will only reach about 60 today, according to the National Weather Service.
The high should rebound to 72 on Wednesday and 78 on Thursday, with lots of sunshine.
Check back to www.rockdalenews.com for more.
(March 5, 3:14 a.m.) IN BRIEF: The strong stormfront that passed through the metro Atlanta area left a trail of damage in its wake, including multiple homes and businesses in Rockdale County.
All the fire stations and units were deployed as the calls for help came pouring in around midnight, according to Deputy Fire Chief Mike Lee.
At least two homes were damaged and trees have fallen and blocked two roads. The walls reportedly collapsed at Dickerson's Automotive on Old Salem Road.
Areas in the county remain without power.
There are no injuries reported, according to Lee.
Check back to www.rockdalenews.com for more on this developing story.