Published: 2017-05-05 10:23:00
Updated: 2017-05-05 17:53:34
Posted May 5
Oxford, N.C. — Phyllis Stark and her husband were asleep in the home they've shared for almost 50 years when an EF-1 tornado churning winds of up to 95 mph touched down about 4 miles northeast of Oxford early Friday morning.
The tornado snapped trees and damaged buildings as it pushed through Granville County, but luckily no one was injured.
Stark credited the solid structure of her house, built in 1921. A year ago and a mile down the road: Residents recover from tornado in Granville County
"We have a very well-built house," she said. "It’s an old house, but structurally, it’s a sound house. So I think we’re very lucky, and God blessed us."
The greatest structural damage hit the room often occupied by the Starks' grandson.
"My grandson stays with us a lot, and this is where he would sleep if he was here," Stark said. "Thank God he was at his mama’s house."
Stark heard the signature sound – "It sounded like a train," she said – then woke to the realization that a tree had punched a hole into her home.
"I felt something crashing, and when I did, I smelled the air, and I knew the tree had come in the house," she said. "I didn’t know how bad it was, but I knew the tree had come into the house."
The tornado stayed on the ground for about a minute, covering a distance of a mile, according to the National Weather Service.
"We have stuff in our yard that belongs a half-mile down the road," Stark said.
Down the road, Curtis Huff spent his Friday repairing damage to his house, barn and sheds. Shutters blew off and porch furniture flew.
"The porch furniture was scattered across due north roughly about 100 yards over in that field over there," he said.
For Huff, who serves as a volunteer firefighter, it was an experience to be on the other side of a crisis.
"We’ve responded to calls like this. We’ve seen this kind of thing, and oftentimes we hear people say, 'We’re just thankful we’re alive,' and today it’s just a reality. It struck home today," he said. Weather Alert Center: Get a call, text or email when severe weather threatens
Nick Petro, a warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS, said the storm was typical for spring in North Carolina.
"This is the typical type of tornado that we see here in our area with the type of thunderstorm event that we were tracking," he said, adding a reminder for residents to use a weather radio or smartphone app to track severe weather and be alerted to its dangers.
"Folks need to make sure they have ways to receive those warnings so they’re woken up at night, and it will let them know when it’s time to take shelter," Petro said.