The Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport is closed indefinitely after Friday night's powerful storm flipped airplanes over and destroyed the hangar, damaging at least 20 aircraft.
"Basically, everything is damaged," Blake Swafford, the airport's director, told the AJC early Saturday.
Rain continued to fall as Swafford described the extensive damage to the airport, located near Dallas, 30 miles northwest of Atlanta. The overturned planes caused hundreds of gallons of fuel to leak, and firefighters were expected to remain on the scene overnight to apply foam to the area, MaryAnn Phipps with the Paulding County Fire Department said.
Debris was strewn along the main airport road late Friday night, with some metal hanging from trees. The entrance into the airport was blocked due to the potential safety hazards.
In addition to the fuel spill, electrical wiring was left exposed after the storm, also posing a safety risk, Swafford said. The airport will be closed until further notice, but the runway is open in the event an emergency landing is needed, he said.
Out of the 23 airplanes parked at the airfield, Swafford said at least 20 were damaged.
"If we're able to save three or four airplanes, we'll be fortunate," Swafford said.
The airport, the first to open in Georgia in more than 30 years, opened in November 2008 and was still a work in progress. Massive rebuilding will likely be required, Swafford said.
The storm damage comes just nine days after a hangar under construction at the airport collapsed. Christopher Mathis, 30, of Valdosta, died Monday from injuries sustained in the hangar collapse, Paulding County deputy coroner Karen Robinson told the AJC earlier this week.
Officials planned to assess the damage at the airport Saturday morning in the daylight.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.