At 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, a category three tornado struck the city of Demorest, GA causing mass destruction to the Swanson Center on the Piedmont College campus. Due to the powerful storm, the A.C. units on the roof tipped over causing a rooftop fire, which then made the roof collapse on the students inside the building.
“We have approximately 70 victims, unfortunately, we have 10 deceased, and we have 15 that are in critical care that need to be transported to a hospital”, said Fred Bucher, who is the Assistant Vice President of facilities and safety. “The remaining victims have cuts and scrapes that we will be treating on sight.”
Without a warning, this tornado went into action causing panic among all the students trapped inside the Swanson Center. Most students were just getting ready for their morning classes when this event took place.
“I don’t know what happened”, said Kasey Ellis, a junior nursing major at Piedmont. “We were just enjoying the day, and then all of a sudden it got very quiet, and we looked behind us at what was coming.”
Habersham county police, firefighters, trauma doctors, and piedmonts student nurses all worked together to administer aid to everyone who needed it. The teams worked quickly to try and save as many victims as possible.
“Not knowing what we were about to walk into, it’s scary. Especially on a mass casualty situation, you have a lot that you have to deal with,” said Sheriff Chris Hall.
While this devastating event has sent heartache to so many families, Bucher wants the community of Demorest to understand that the recovery process as already began.
“I wish the city of Demorest could see all these young men and women in their green suits. They all have a superb knowledge in their field of study. We have people that can and will get the job done when their name is called.”