Eintime Conversion for education and research 04-08-2008 @ 12:48:33
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Georgia gets rain, but it may not help

By Greg Bluestein, Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA — A storm system crashed through the Southeast and brought up to an inch of rain in parts of drought-stricken Georgia, but forecasters said the storm likely did little to ease the state's historic drought.

The rain late Wednesday and early Thursday brought some precipitation to the parched hills of northern Georgia. The showers began a day after Gov. Sonny Perdue led a prayer service on the steps of the state Capitol to beg the heavens to end the drought.

"Certainly, we're not gloating about it," Perdue said from a trade mission in Canada. "We're thankful for the rain and hopefully it's the beginning of more. ... Frankly, it's great affirmation of what we asked for."

As the drought has worsened, Perdue has ordered water restrictions, launched a legal battle against the release of water from federal reservoirs and appealed to President Bush.

About an inch of rain fell through north Georgia, and Atlanta received about a half an inch. It wasn't enough to ease the ease the drought, forecasters said.

"It puts a little bit of extra water in some of the smaller tributaries and reservoirs, but it doesn't provide any significant long-term benefit," said Matt Sena, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "We need months of above average rainfall to start putting a dent in this," he added.

Storms hit elsewhere in the Southeast, injuring at least nine in Tennessee.

In Kentucky, a tornado hit a rural stretch of the southeastern part of the state Wednesday afternoon. No injuries were reported.

"It was real intense," Laurel County Sheriff Fred Yaden said. "The winds were really strong, and the rain was coming in gushes."

In Tennessee's Marion County, the roof of a Baptist church was heavily damaged in the storms, said Jeremy Heidt of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. Three children were hurt by flying glass and were taken to hospitals, said Heidt.

City Hall across the street from the church suffered minor damage, Heidt said, and an ambulance business next to it had heavy damage. A house also collapsed, but the residents went to the hospital themselves.

"I couldn't get the door open because the outside pressure and wind was so strong," said Justin Lawhorne, manager of Wendy's restaurant in Kimball.

County schools were closed Thursday due to the storm.

More than a quarter of the Southeast is covered by an "exceptional" drought — the National Weather Service's worst drought category.

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