DALLAS — McCollum Airport will see an uptick in traffic from pilots headed to Paulding County, whose airport is closed after being hit by Friday night’s storms.
But Poole Elementary School was open as normal Monday morning, despite damage to five classrooms.
The Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport’s terminal building roof was damaged and a hangar was destroyed, along with at least 18 of the 23 planes housed within.
Airport director Blake Swafford said Monday he hoped to have the airport operating within days.
“Our goal is to have the runway open by the end of the week so that those aircraft that are not damaged can relocate to another facility,” he said.
The airport is in west central Paulding off U.S. Highway 278.
Dallas Mayor Boyd Austin, who is a member of the Paulding County Airport Authority, said claims adjustors and structural engineers haven’t determined the extent of the damage, which Swafford estimates will cost about $5 million to repair.
The tornadic winds tossed the airport hangar around, damaging all the planes inside. Crews haven’t yet reached two planes still inside the hangar because the building has not been deemed safe, Austin said.
Fuel spilled from the planes as the wind tossed them about, but that has been contained, he said.
The buildings are covered under the airport authority’s insurance through the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency, but individual plane owners will be responsible for the damage to their aircraft, Austin said.
“I wouldn’t foresee there would be any liability on the authority’s side, other than the buildings,” he said.
Karl Von Hagel, director of Cobb’s McCollum Airport, said pilots planning a trip to Paulding would likely land at McCollum while the Paulding airport is closed, but he doesn’t expect a dramatic traffic increase. McCollum, which was not damaged by the storms, averages about 186 takeoffs or landings each day and can accommodate more planes, he said.
“Paulding Airport was still building its customer base, so the expected traffic is minor,” Von Hagel said. “All the airports serve as a system of airports, and whenever one is impacted like that it hurts the system.”
The Friday night storms came just weeks after a deadly accident at Paulding’s airport. On Feb. 23, Chris Mathis, 30, of Adel, was killed and two others were injured when a 30,000-square-foot hangar that was under construction collapsed.
Meanwhile, it was business as usual at Poole Elementary School on Monday morning, despite damage to five classrooms.
Paulding Schools Superintendent Cliff Cole said four classrooms were damaged when the roof was torn off on one wing of the school and the fifth when its outer wall was blown out.
“Most of the damage is cosmetic,” Cole said. “Safety is not a concern.”
He said school officials feel lucky the storm hit on a Friday evening, both because no one was at the school and because it gave the school district the weekend to repair damages to allow for school to open Monday.
A structural engineer inspected the building during the weekend and verified the building was safe, Cole said. Six mobile units were also damaged during the storm, but they were mainly used for storage, he said.
Cole said it will take a month before the building is completely repaired. Officials have not yet determined the dollar amount of damage to the school.
Other damages include window and gutter damages to another wing of the school, as well as paper damage in the affected classrooms.