Leaving work after coming in to finish a presentation on a Saturday, a huge crowd had gathered outside CNN Center to raise awareness of the increasingly violent response to election protests in Tehran. I snapped a few images before heading home.
My old friend and co-worker Mitch Gelman, Executive Editor and chief muckety-muck for CNN.com for the last several years was feted before the new year as he left CNN, Turner and Atlanta for greener pastures out in Colorado where his wife is in veterinary school. Mitch and I started within a few weeks of one another back at CNN/SI, he taking the path into the editorial world while I moved more and more into technology. He’s one of the smartest guys I know, with tremendous instincts as a journalist and manager. He will be missed around these parts. In this image above, Simit (on the plasma screen above Mitch) does his best impersonation of Mitch being pissed off, if I recall correctly.
So much has been said about the 2008 Election already – I don’t have much to add. Let’s just say that Sam is very happy that ‘Mr Obama’ as he calls him came out on top. I had the pleasure of working out of the CNN.com newsroom on the big night, which for our purposes was something of a sleeper – with polls pretty much clearly indicating who was going to win, we didn’t melt down the internet (or our ad serving) quite the way we thought we might. We were more than prepared for anything that might happen – in the end it was just a pleasure to see how things unfolded.
So we thought living ITP would keep us free of the trailer-park loving cyclonic activity we usually think of out in the hinterlands. Well, not so much. The photo above is not by me – it was taken by photographer Shane Durrence and shown by WXIA here in Atlanta and shows, backlit by lightning, the tornado on the ground over downtown at the far left of the image.
We got the tornado warning (SMS from wunderground.com) about five minutes before it hit on Friday night. It was a fairly generic notice – for the whole county – so I wasn’t really worried, didn’t grab the kids etc. as they were asleep. In seconds the rain began to pound and swirl, and then we heard that classic freight train sound. I actually went out on our back deck to grab some things that were flying around – silly me. And then it was done. Turns out that the 200-yard-wide EF2 tornado (estimated winds of 135mph) had carved a path from the west side of the Georgia Dome (the Vine City neighborhood) onward over the dome, ripping sections of the roof away just as it did about ten years ago when I was there covering a game (designed that way?) then right over the Ga World Congress Center and past CNN Center and Centennial Park. That side of CNN and the Omni had dozens of windows blown out – including ones just feet from my friend Steve Almasy, one of the handful of folks working at 9:45pm on Friday night in the CNN.com newsroom and near my friend Kate Sandhaus’ desk. The twister then went past Centennial Tower, the Georgia Pacific Building, the Westin Peachtree Tower and the Equitable – taking out many windows, interestingly mostly on upper floors. Then the storm headed towards us – taking the roof off parts of the Cotton Mill Lofts and then destroying close to 20 homes in the Cabbagetown neighborhood – but sparing Sam’s preschool, the Grant Park Cooperative campus in C-town, only a block away from the worst damage. Then the tornado crossed over I-20 and hit parts of East Atlanta, coming less than 1/2 mile from our house – we were really lucky.
The second round of twisters that came through North GA on Saturday had us taking things quite seriously, holed up in an interior closet for the duration of the warnings. That only resulted in 1/4″ hail without much other damage at our place – but two deaths in a rural county near Atlanta. Weather is serious business.