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Perino reflects on tornadoes in Atlanta during 2008 SEC Tournament

Posted at 4:06 PM, Mar 03, 2020

ATLANTA, Ga. (LEX 18) — Who remembers March 14th, 2008 inside the Georgia Dome?

Hey Kentucky's Mary Jo Perino was there getting ready for Kentucky to play in the next game when a tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta.

"There was a giant scoreboard that was hanging over bleachers full of fans swaying back and forth," Perino reflected. "We just kept watching that going, 'Oh my God.'"

It was 9:40 at night. Alabama and Mississippi went into overtime. Thousands of fans were packed inside the Dome as parts of the roof loosened and debris flew everywhere outside the complex.

"The streets were desolate except for debris, board, metal....everything, everywhere," Perino added. "It was a scary moment for sure."

Perino, like thousands of other fans, couldn't leave the Georgia Dome, but when they did they saw the destruction including a damaged LEX 18 live truck hit by flying debris.

The Kentucky game had to be postponed until the next day. It was moved to the campus of Georgia Tech where most fans could not attend the game.

Kim Hicks
Kim Hicks, of Lexington, Ky., holds up a sign up at the Georgia-Kentucky Southeastern Conference basketball game at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Saturday, March 15, 2008. The tournament was forced to move to Georgia Tech after high winds damaged the Georgia Dome. Hicks was at the Georgia Dome on Friday night when it was damaged by a possible tornado. Georgia won 60-56 in overtime. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

Like thousands of other Kentucky fans, Perino will head to Nashville next week for the SEC tournament at Bridgestone Arena, which was not damaged by Tuesday's tornado. Mary Jo says her heart goes out to everyone affected by the tornado.

"Feeling really sad for people who are waiting to show off their city and waiting for people to shop in their stores," Perino said. "You feel awful for them because they're dealing with life altering events, not preparing for what should be a fun amazing time."