If you haven't seen or heard about the tornado that ripped through downtown Atlanta, then I ask you to either wave your hand in front of your face and tell me if you can see your hand or, place a finger up under your jaw and feel for a pulse. Ok? Good...
Anyway, so as a birthday gift I was given tickets to the SEC basketball tournament. My dad and I went down to the Georgia Dome Friday around lunchtime for the first 2 of 4 games. The games were exciting and we were having a good time. Then there was a dinner break and Tate Welling met us for the last 2 games. The first game was Alabama against Mississippi State [To this day I still say that little saying to help me spell Mississippi...anybody else with me?]. The game was back and forth and it eventually went into overtime. With about 2 minutes and 11 seconds left in overtime all of a sudden we saw people across the Dome scattering and frantically running. A minute or so before I had heard some rumbling but didn't think anything of it. What was going through my head initially is that somebody was sick and they were running to find help or there was a fight happening between fans from Alabama and Mississippi State. Then boom, the entire Dome started to shake and it sounded like a freight train was going through the middle of the Dome. The scoreboard, big screens and scaffolding were swaying back and forth. The lights were shaking. It felt as if an earthquake was occurring. I looked up and the entire cloth rooftop of the Dome was rattling and it looked like the "parachute" game we used to play on the playground when younger. You know the one where everyone holds a piece of tarp and starts to shake it up and down. The balls on top start bouncing around like "popcorn." Remember?
Anyway, people were scattering all over the place running for the exits. For a brief moment I was thinking that this could be it. I don't want to be over-dramatic but we had no where to go because all of the aisles were jammed. I thought, "What am I going to do if the roof comes down?" Then all of a sudden 3 panels from the side of the Dome were ripped open. You could see the rain and lightening outside from where we were sitting! Debris was falling all over the court and the people in the stands. After what seemed to be an eternity rapped in about 30 seconds, the freight train-like rumbling quieted down. We could still see the rain and lightening though outside. We found out later on that a big bolt fell from the roof in front of somebody, which set off the mad-scramble at the beginning.
After about an hour delay, they came back out and played the last 2 minutes and 11 seconds of overtime [which Mississippi State won]. The overhead announcer told everybody to stay in the Dome and there is still severe weather outside. Roughly 30 minutes later they announced that the UGA-Kentucky game was postponed until the next day [GO DAWGS!].
Even though it was very frightening, things could have been a lot worse. The roof could have fallen it or blown off. The big screens, scaffolding, lighting and scoreboard could have fallen on people. Also, if the game didn't go into overtime, there would have been a large crowd outside leaving the Dome, which could have resulted in devastating injuries or even deaths. The Lord definitely had His team of angels protecting us that night! I am thankful!!
I didn't have my camera with me but I did manage to take some pictures with my phone. Here are some of those:
These are some views of the Georgia Dome from the outside. Look at all of those panels ripped off...
Here is some of the debris outside. There were benches overturned, glass was everywhere from doors and windows blown out, trash cans blown everywhere. That sign with the C on it usually stands upright. It is a solid concrete sign that was almost toppled over by this storm!
If you look towards the top of the Dome you can see the holes ripped into the side. In case you can't see them, I utilized my pointer finger to "point" out one of the openings...
It was a crazy scary night my friends. Continue to pray for those that lost homes and other possessions.
Grace and peace.