Parts of Butts County still without power after two tornadoes touched down

Butts County Schools to reopen as planned on Tuesday
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 5:48 PM EST
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JACKSON LAKE, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Two tornadoes ripped through Butts County last week causing widespread damage.

More than 400 utility poles were broken in a county of 25,000 people, according to officials.

Crews are desperately working to get the power grid back to full strength, meanwhile, homeowners are trying to pick up the pieces.

“I actually called my grandmother to tell her goodbye for the last time because I thought we were gone,” said Haley Bargeron.

Bargeron says she and her family are lucky to be alive. She and her husband, along with their two young children ran for cover when the storm came barreling through their Worthville neighborhood late Thursday afternoon.

“We got the baby crib mattress, we put it in our bathroom. And we got my 9-year-old’s bicycle helmet and put it on her head to protect her from head trauma. We were in the bathtub,” said Bargeron. “It sounded like our house was falling down.”

Thankfully, the house is still standing, and her family wasn’t hurt. It was a powerful storm, winds strong enough to snap off dozens of these tall pine trees and toss them several yards.

“The only thing that prevented them from hitting our actual house was that we had two oak trees that are still standing, and they stop them,” said Bargeron.

A 5-year-old in Butts County is the first confirmed death during the severe weather that impacted north Georgia on Jan. 12. The victim has been identified as Egan Jeffcoat.

While the National Weather Service is still surveying the damage, the agency has already confirmed that at least two separate tornadoes touched down in Butts County. County Manager Brad Johnson says the Jackson Lake area saw the most severe damage.

“It took four hours to get there. We had several occupants, trapped in the houses. It took an extended time, luckily, no severe injuries there. We had some minor injuries, but we got everybody out safely,” said Johnson.

By 5 a.m. on Friday, National Weather Service officials confirmed at least four tornadoes touched down in Troup, Meriwether, DeKalb, Spalding, and Warren counties.


Four days after the storm, while crews from as far away as Alabama and Tennessee are helping to get the power back on, church groups are donating food to feed those in need and those who are helping with cleanup.

“It makes me proud to be a Butts County resident,” said Bargeron.

Crews from FEMA were in Butts County Monday assessing the damage. The county is hoping for federal funds to help with clean-up, which could cost upwards of $2 million.

Meanwhile, Butts County School System will resume classes as planned on Tuesday. In a message to parents Superintendent Brent Lowe said all students and staff should report to class provided it is safe to do so.

“We realize that several of you may be without power, etc. Please be assured that we will continue to work with each of you during these trying times. Thank you to our entire community for supporting Butts County Schools throughout this process,” said Lowe.