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Terrible Storm sweeps the Country Wednesday

News-Herald Monday May 5, 1924

Mrs. Margaret Powell Dies From Injuries Received As House on Sam Craig Farm Is Blown Away. Several Others Injured and Many Marvelous Escapes From Death. Total of 108 Dead and Over 500 Injured in Six States. Property Damage Estimated At Over $10,000,000.00 [$136,576,608 (2013)]

    A tornado, followed by heavy rain and windstorm, struck Lawrenceville Wednesday morning about 6 o'clock leaving death and destruction in its wake.
    A light rain had been falling some hours when suddenly it grew hot and then cold and the twister struck Gwinnett county first at the farm of Sam Craig, two miles from Lawrenceville. The large barn and silo, together with all outbuildings, were blown down. The porch and part of the home were likewise destroyed. About one thousand bushels of corn were scattered with the wreckage over the nearby fields. The home occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Wall, on the Craig farm, was blown down, the family of five beneath it. Mrs. Power [sic], mother of Mrs. Wall, who lived in Gainesville and was on a visit to her daughter, was the most severely injured and died Thursday. Mr. and Mrs. Wall and their three children were likewise injured and are still confined to their beds, having been removed to a nearby home that escaped the storm. Another tenant house, occupied by negroes, on the farm came down on the family as they slept and injured four persons. The tornado seemed to strike with full force in the woods across the road from the Craig home and here many acres of heavy hickory timber was blown up and twisted off. A large part of this timber is torn so bad that practically nothing can be realized from it.
    The Lawrenceville Fertilizer plant was the first local industry struck, and considerable damage was done to the building.
    Coming north the wind seemed to follow the Seaboard railroad and houses and barns lost their roofs and many chimneys were blown down until the old Tannery building, just inside the Lawrenceville city limits, was reached. One story of this brick structure together with the roof was blown away. The Allen Manufacturing Company suffered a heavy loss when the roofs of their factory and warehouse were destroyed. Machinery was damaged and much finished as well as raw material damaged.
    The negro church and school house were hard hit and both buildings rendered useless until heavy repairs are made.
    The debris was scattered up and down the Seaboard tracks and all trains were delayed until its removal.
    The porches of the home of Col. D. M. Byrd were wrecked, the roof blown off the General Implement Company, plate glass and small windows blown from many buildings and residences beside [sic] the destroying of many shade trees in the court house square and on the city streets.
    The Lawrenceville Cotton Mills suffered a heavy loss to machinery and raw and finished goods as well as damage to practically every home in the mill village. The family of H. T. Little narrowly escaped death when their home fell. Three houses here were destroyed and the roofs of practically every mill home is damaged.
    The Second Baptist church, a wooden structure in the mill section was entirely destroyed.
    The lumber yard of J. A. Ambrose suffered heavy loss. Every shed and all buildings except the main office was destroyed. The roof of the Rock Warehouse, occupied by Sikes Bros., is gone.
    Four homes, facing the west, on Clayton street, and side by side were wrecked. The brick residence occupied by J. G. Simpson lost its roof and one wall. Here the family was up and just escaped from the building as the roof fell in.
    The F. B. Maddox home lost its roof, porches and a chimney.
    E. M. Gunter's home was completely destroyed. The six room building came down as the family slept and though it is completely ruined not a person was hurt. Four members of the family crawled from under the building without so much as a scratch.
    The five room house owned by Mrs. Mamie Davis is a complete wreck. The escape of the family here is also marvelous. Only one wall of the bed room remained standing and no one was hurt.
    Telegraph lines, telephone and electric motor and light lines were damaged, many poles torn down and wires broken. The loss to the Georgia Railway & Power Company's equipment here is estimated about $10,000. Three of the large transformers at their station near the depot were likewise put out of commission.
    The total estimate of the property damage of the storm here is placed at $150,000. [$2,048,649 (2013)]
    The more fortunate came to the aid of the victims, taking them into their homes, giving food and supplies as well as money. A careful checkup is being made with the view of further aid for the needy.
    The city was dark from the time of the storm until Friday while the electrical wiring was being repaired and new transformers put in and business was practically at a stand still while the debris was cleared away. Electric motors pull the pumps supplying the city with water and the current being cut off the water supply became scarce and finally played out in many parts of the town. The few wells were called into service and the man with a well was a popular guy. Luckily there were no outbreaks of fire while the water was exhausted.
    From reports this storm seems to have started in Louisiana and swept clear through to North Carolina killing 108 persons, injuring 500 more, and causing property damage estimated at over $10,000,000.
    Heavy losses were suffered at Elberton, Ga.
    In Macon four were killed and twelve injured with heavy property loss.
    Nine are dead with heavy loss at Warm Springs.
    Chipley reports seven killed and one injured.
    One person is missing at Ficklin, Ga., and much property destroyed.
    South Carolina reports 79 dead.
    Alabama had 11 deaths.
    North Carolina's dead is reported as three.
    Louisiana and Arkansas report one death each.
    Lawrenceville citizens say the rain was the hardest ever falling here and lasted thirty minutes but the twister proper simply came and was gone, giving no notice or chance of escape as it swept. A picture of desolation and wreckage was left in its wake; it is considered marvelous that so many escaped death in the falling buildings. The storm traveled over 1,000 miles.

    Owing to the cyclone having damaged power lines here so badly that Lawrenceville was without lights and water for two days, it was impossible for the News-Herald to publish Thursday's issue.


    Mrs. Margaret Powell died Wednesday night from wounds suffered during the storm of that morning. She was a widow 68 years of age and lived in Gainesville. Mrs. Powell was on a visit to her daughter Mrs. Wall of the Sam Craig farm near Lawrenceville, at the time of her injuries. Funeral services were held at Sugar Hill Thursday.

The Lawrenceville tornado of 1924 was part of an outbreak of at least 26 significant tornadoes across the Southeastern states on April 29 and 30, 1924. The tornados left over 110 persons dead and at least 1,100 injured. The tornado that hit Lawrenceville was estimated at F2 intensity. This same system produced F3 damage at Hartwell, Ga. and continued on to the Rock Hill, SC area. Along its path it destroyed 100 homes and two cotton mills in Anderson, SC. A short while after that an F4 tornado hit Macon and an hour later the "Horrell Hill" storm system of F3 and F4 tornados began near Aiken, South Carolina. Traveling on a path 100 miles long and bypassing Columbia and most towns in the region, it finally dispersed near Darlington, SC after destroying 1300 buildings and killing 14. The last of the storms did damage in Pittsboro, NC and Amelia, VA.

(Photos GHS-538, GHS-2015 were originally included)