Local News

The Wrath of a Tornado

Posted March 20, 1998

— This time last night many people huddled in bathrooms and closets as pelting rain, high winds, hail and even "twisters" pounded the area. Others counted their blessings because the devastating storm left them unharmed.

The storm barreled in after six p.m., and darted across seven counties in the next several hours: Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Person, Robeson, Rockingham and Wake Counties marked the top of the hit list.

This morning, as the sun came up, people went out to look at the damage and start the long task of cleaning up. Sky Five caught it all, the best view of the PATH OF DESTRUCTION.

At first glance, Stoneville looks like a war zone that collapsed under intense bombing. This area is where a tornado hit the center of town and reduced dreams of an economic rebirth to heaps of bricks, broken glass and smashed buildings.

Two people were killed and 27-others injured when the tornado roared through the center of town. State emergency crews say nearly 50-buildings were damaged or destroyed. The mayor of the town says what the 1100 citizens need most is "sleep and prayers."

In Mayodan, Sky-5 retraced the path of a tornado. The roof of this factory shows how the tornado twisted its way through town, ripping apart homes, crumbling a church, churning an apartment building into shambles, a car was thrown into a baseball field. As far as the eye could see, evidence of destruction was everywhere.

In the Triangle, Garner took the brunt of the storm. Two people were hurt, six houses destroyed and an electrical substation damaged. The steeple atop the Church of the Nazarene along route 70 was peeled off. The church received more than 150,000 dollars worth of damage.

Residents looked outside their homes to survey debris, fallen trees, holes in their rooftops. For some, it was a painful reminder of Hurricane Fran that unleashed its fury a year and a half ago. Now, they are cleaning up from a night of ferocious storms that spawned terrifying tornadoes.

For all the damaged areas, the massive cleanup has begun. Complete recovery could take weeks, months and for Stoneville, perhaps years.

Governor Jim Hunt pledged that the prison labor will help with the cleanup if it's needed in Stoneville. Rescuers with bloodhounds searched for possible victims today, but everyone had been accounted for by midday.


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