Tornado Hits Downtown Atlanta Leaving Millions in Damage

Atlanta's Mayor has declared a state of emergency after a tornado ripped through the downtown area, and more storms threatened throughout the day.  At least one person is confirmed dead tonight.

The tornado struck fast and with little warning catching Atlanta residents by surprise as it tore through the downtown area blowing out windows and ripping off roofs.

Shirley Franklin, Mayor of Atlanta said, "Most of us did not get any warnings in advance that this storm was brewing."  An eyewitness said, "It was was really heavy rain and then it stopped and then we heard what sounded like a train and we saw a funnel cloud form above the georgia dome."

At the Georgia Dome, where thousands had gathered to watch the Southeast Conference Basketball Tournament, fans and teams took cover as the storm tore holes into the stadium.      Assistant Police Chief Alan Dreher said "Everybody starting panicking and it was pretty scary for a while. And they had to postpone the games."

By daybreak the extent of the destruction was clear - the storms had left widespread damage throughout the area.  At a historic old mill converted into apartments at least four floors collapsed.  Crews searched to make sure nobody was trapped, but had to work quickly as more severe weather threatened to move in.

Officials declared a state of emergency and urged residents to stay inside.  So far, at least one death has been confirmed in the severe weather outbreak.  Dozens more were injured and thousands left without power; as residents now continue to brace for what could be more rough weather on the way.

This was the first tornado ever on record in Downtown Atlanta.  Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner estimates damage is already at 150 to 200 million dollars.