Saturday, March 15, 2008

Details and eyewitness descriptions from Atlanta

David Hurlbrink, regional sales manager for PennWell…
March 15, 12 noon ET
We were eating at City Grill in downtown Atlanta last night (March 14). We were sitting there eating and we heard a tremendous noise, almost like a freight train. We wondered what it was. Suddenly, glass blew in on the people’s table across the table. They dove for cover. My initial reaction was tornado because I thought I had heard wind. We heard a roar. The restaurant staff took us to a hallway where they thought it would be safer. People were fairly calm, but some were shaken up. Afterwards, we heard a lot of sirens and the restaurant staff was telling us it was coming back again in around 10 minutes. Stayed there for about 10 minutes, then meandered back to table. We finished dinner, then once we went outside, we saw all the damage. You know the bronze plaques on historic buildings? One was halfway ripped out of the wall. We were directed by fire and police to stay off certain roads because of tree and sidewalk damage. We walked back to the Westin where some friends were staying, but they weren’t letting anyone upstairs. We went to the Marriott and everything seemed OK.

From Kristine Hodsdon, eVillage director…
March 15, 12:15 p.m. ET
I have heard that the roof collapsed in Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC, home of the Hinman Meeting) around the 2000 aisle. We have been told that pretty much everything in the exhibit hall is going to have some kind of water damage. The exhibitor committee is meeting with structural engineers and going through the GWCC at the moment to see the damage and to see when people can be let back in.

From Kim Ryan, public relations and marketing manager for the Hinman Dental Meeting...
March 15, 1:30 p.m. ET
The Georgia World Congress Center and the Omni Hotel at CNN Center are not allowing people to hold any kind of meeting, therefore the remainder of the Hinman Dental Meeting has been canceled. The GWCC is structurally unsound and exhibitors will not be allowed back into the building for at least 48 hours. We will know more on Monday.

Exhibit Hall A (where the Hinman exhibit hall was located) was hit the hardest by the storm. Parts of the roof have been torn off and there has been water damage to the exhibits in the hall.

Official release from Hinman Dental Meeting
March 16, 10:15 a.m.
Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting
The safety of the attendees and exhibitors of the Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting is our primary concern at this time. Due to extensive damage sustained by both the Georgia World Congress Center and the Omni Hotel at CNN Center - the site of the Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting -- we will not be able to continue the meeting on Saturday, March 15.

According to Dan Graveline, Executive Director of the Georgia World Congress Center, for the purposes of safety, people cannot be allowed to return to the facility.

In addition, Gary Froeba, Regional Vice President and Managing Director of the Omni Hotel at CNN Center , has advised us that the Omni Hotel at CNN Center is currently occupying guest rooms that have no damage to the windows. Guests with window damage are being relocated to hotels throughout the city. The Omni Hotel is no longer taking reservations or conducting meetings until further notice.

The organizers of the Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting will actively communicate with both attendees and exhibitors in the days ahead. We appreciate everyones patience and understanding during this time.

From Kim Ryan, public relations and marketing manager for the Hinman Dental Meeting...
March 17, 10 a.m. ET
The assessment of the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) will be completed today (Monday, March 17) and an announcement will be made at 4:30 p.m. ET regarding when exhibitors can access the GWCC. The GWCC will give every exhibitor ample time to perform their moveout.

Right now, it is estimated that the GWCC will be closed to the public for at least two weeks because of the estimated $100-$150 million in damages to the facility.

From Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 17, 11:30 am ET
The Hinman meeting generates about $26 million in revenue for Atlanta.

Stay tuned for further updates. We’ll keep you updated…

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