Are You Ready?

Tornadoes, Severe Thunderstorms, Floods, Flash Floods, Severe Cold, Ice Storms, Blizzards, and Hazardous Materials spills have all occurred within Cherokee County. These events have caused disruption of services such as loss of power and water, closed roads, schools, stores, and business and caused injuries, loss of property and most importantly loss of lives.

Preparedness is everyone's responsibility. All sectors of society - business and industry, civic and volunteer groups, industry associations and neighborhood associations, as well as every individual citizen and every family - should plan ahead for disaster. During the first few hours or days following a disaster, essential services may not be available. People must be ready to act on their own.

This section of our web site has been designed to help our citizens to become aware of the threats that are present and protect themselves and families against all hazards. The focus of this information is to identify hazards, how to develop, practice, and maintain emergency plans that reflect what must be done before, during and after disasters. The Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency, a division of the Cherokee Marshal's Office, is dedicated to assist our citizens in preparing for, responding to and recovering from all types of disasters, both natural and manmade.

Cherokee County Hazards

Disaster Prevention


When is Cherokee County's Tornado Season? Tornadoes have occurred in northern Georgia including Cherokee County during every month of the year. Two times during each year, the number of tornadoes reported increases.

The Deadly Spring Season, from February through April is characterized by more powerful tornadoes because of the presence of the jet stream. When the jet stream digs south into the southeastern United States and is accompanied by a strong cold front and a strong squall line of thunderstorms, the jet stream's high level winds of 100 to 200 mph often strengthen a thunderstorm into what meteorologists call a supercell or mesocyclone. These powerful storms can move at speeds of 30 to 50 mph, produce dangerous downburst winds, large hail and the most deadly tornadoes.

During the fall, October-Mid December, tornado activity once again increases as strong cold fronts bring in the winter season.

What time of day do tornadoes occur?

Tornadoes can occur at any time of the day or night. Most often, they occur in the afternoon and evening, however many tornadoes do occur at night and these night time tornadoes have proven to be deadly. At night tornadoes are hard to see and most often resident don't get the warning because they are asleep.

TORNADO WATCH means conditions are favorable for severe weather including tornadoes.

A TORNADO WARNING means sever weather is occurring or has been detected by radar. These warnings are issued with information concerning where the tornado is presently located and what communities are in the anticipated path of the tornado.



Thunderstorms affect relatively small areas when compared with hurricanes and winter storms. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. Nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring at any moment around the world. That’s 16 million a year!

Despite their small size, all thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can lead to flash flooding. Strong winds, hail, and tornadoes are also dangers associated with some thunderstorms.

Of the estimated 100,000 thunderstorms that occur each year in the United States, only about 10 percent are classified as severe. Your National Weather Service considers a thunderstorm severe if it produces hail at least 3/4-inch in diameter, wind 58 mph or higher, or tornadoes.

Take the time to understand these dangers!

Flash Floods/Floods

Straight-line Winds

What YOU can do!

 Before the storm:

When Thunderstorms Approach:


Extreme cold weather can come to north Georgia. Temperatures in the single digits and even below zero have occurred right here in Cherokee County.

Actions you can take!

The P’s of Cold Weather: Protect People
Protect Plants
Protect Pets
Protect Exposed Pipes
Practice Fire Safety

Flood/Flash Flood

Whether you are driving or walking, if you come to a flooded road, Turn Around Don't Drown® , You will not know the depth of the water nor will you know the condition of the road under the water.

Except for heat related fatalities, more deaths occur from flooding than any other hazard. Why? Most people fail to realize the power of water. For example, six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock you off your feet.

While the number of fatalities can vary dramatically with weather conditions from year to year, the national 30-year average for flood deaths is 127. That compares with a 30-year average of 73 deaths for lightning, 65 for tornadoes and 16 for hurricanes. National Weather Service data also shows:

Winter Storm

Even in Georgia, winter storms can be killers. Each year, dozens of Americans die due to exposure to cold. Add to that number, vehicle accidents and fatalities, fires due to dangerous use of heaters and other winter weather fatalities and you have a significant threat.

Threats, such as hypothermia and frostbite, can lead to loss of fingers and toes or cause permanent kidney, pancreas and liver injury and even death. You must prepare properly to avoid these extreme dangers. You also need to know what to do if you see symptoms of these threats.

A major winter storm can last for several days and be accompanied by high winds, freezing rain or sleet, heavy snowfall and cold temperatures. People can become trapped at home or in a car, without utilities or other assistance. Attempting to walk for help in a winter storm can be a deadly decision. The aftermath of a winter storm can have an impact on a community or region for days, weeks or even months.

Heavy accumulations of ice can bring down trees and topple utility poles and communication towers. Ice can disrupt communications and power for days while utility companies repair extensive damage. Even small accumulations of ice can be extremely dangerous to motorists and pedestrians. Bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous because they freeze before other surfaces. 

Be Prepared Before the Storm Strikes 

At Home and Work
Primary concerns are loss of heat, power and telephone service and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day. 

Have available:


In recent years, people have been killed by lightning while:

Lightning results from the buildup and discharge of electrical energy between positively and negatively charged areas. The average flash could light a 100-watt bulb for more than 3 months. Most lightning occurs within the cloud or between the cloud and ground.

Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors. The air near a lightning strike is heated to 50,000°F- hotter than the surface of the sun! The rapid heating and cooling of air near the lightning channel causes a shock wave that results in thunder.

When thunderstorms approach:

Remember : if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately!

Heat Wave

Know What These Terms Mean...

If a Heat Wave Is Predicted or Happening...


Cherokee County Water Authority:


How Should Cherokee County Prepare For Terrorism?

Unlike with a Tornado or a Winter Storm, there will likely be NO WARNING for a terrorist attack. Cherokee County residents make sure that your families know what they would do to account for each other in a disaster. A Family Disaster Plan is critical and should be in place at all times. Your family's plan should include Emergency Contacts, identification of Rally Points, Disaster Supply Kits and more.

With some simple planning this can be done and help alleviate the fear of the unknown.

Rally Points

Before a Terrorist Incident:

 After a Terrorist Incident

Wild Fire

Wildfires often begin unnoticed. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. Reduce your risk by preparing now — before wildfire strikes. Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area.

Wild Fire Safety:

Tropical Cyclone

While Cherokee County is located away from the coast, tropical storms and hurricanes have caused great damage within our county. 

There are 3 major dangers locally ….. 


In the last 30 years, inland flooding has been responsible for more than half the deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the United States. 

Freshwater floods accounted for more than half (59%) of U.S. tropical cyclone deaths over the past 30 years. These floods are why 63% of U.S. tropical cyclone deaths during that period occurred in inland counties. At least 23% of U.S. tropical cyclone deaths occur to people who drown in, or attempting to abandon, their cars. 78% of children killed by tropical cyclones drowned in freshwater floods. 

So, the next time you hear hurricane -- think inland flooding!

What can you do? 


Strong winds can accompany thunderstorms that rotate around a land falling hurricane or tropical storm. These winds can gust to over 75 MPH causing damage to structures and making driving hazardous. Strong winds combined with heavy rain can cause trees to uproot and crush vehicles and homes. The falling trees can make travel very hazardous and close roads for long periods of time.

What can you do?


Severe thunderstorms spawn by hurricanes and tropical storms can produce tornadoes well away from the point of hurricane landfall. In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Several hundred miles eat across Georgia a record outbreak of tornadoes occurred causing major damage, injuries and deaths.

What can you do?

Pack a Kit

Family Disaster Plan

Plan Checklist

Flood Insurance

The National Flood Insurance Program 

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created by Congress in 1968 to reduce the costs associated in providing relief used for victims and damages caused by floods. The NFIP is available in 19,000 communities across the United States and over 430 communities in Georgia. Managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the NFIP partners with insurance programs and communities reducing flood damage in Georgia each year. 

The self-supporting agency operates on premiums collected from flood insurance policies freeing taxpayers of the burden. The NFIP provides insurance coverage for events traditionally not covered under homeowner’s insurance. Without the NFIP, many communities and property owners would be forced to go without coverage. Does your community participate in the NFIP? How can you obtain flood insurance through the NFIP? Do you live in a floodplain area? To find out the answers to these and many more questions:


Pet Plan

Before the Disaster 


After the Disaster

NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts weather information - including warnings and can be heard 24 hours a day in practically every community in the state. In fact, some communities can hear weather broadcasts from more than one radio station. This can be advantageous. Or it can lead to problems. For this reason it is important to know enough about the broadcast system to make a choice of transmitter that will give you the most protection.

Each transmitter emits an alert tone when warnings or other important weather messages are broadcast for the first time. However, no transmitter sends out the alert tones for all counties. Each tower sends the tones to a designated set of counties known as the "official service area" for that tower. The official service area is determined by a tower's ability to get a signal of sufficient strength into each county. If you want to be alerted, you will need to be sure you are tuned to a transmitter that has your county in its official service area.


Local government officials issue evacuation orders when disaster threatens or a hazardous event has occurred. Listen to local radio and television reports when disaster threatens. If local officials ask you to leave, do so immediately; they have a good reason for making this request. 

Coordinate your evacuation plan in advance when creating your family's disaster plan. Ensure that you've tested the evacuation routes and that you have planned several in the instance of closed roads and routes.


One of the instructions you may be given in an emergency where hazardous materials may have been released into the atmosphere is to shelter-in-place. This is a precaution aimed to keep you safe while remaining indoors. (This is not the same thing as going to a shelter in case of a storm.) Shelter-in-place means selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there. It does not mean sealing off your entire home or office building.





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