Local News

One Killed, Scores Injured as Storms Ravage Eastern North Carolina

Posted April 15, 1999

— One person was killed and at least 20 others injured as severe thunderstorms rolled across eastern North Carolina, authorities said.

Michael Ray Strickland, 36, was killed about 8 p.m. Thursday when high winds destroyed four trailers at the Chavis Mobile Home Park in Robeson County, authorities said.

``He was trapped underneath the mobile home,'' said sheriff's Maj. Jimmy Maynor. ``He had to be dug out.''

Two women in the trailer where Strickland lived were injured.

The National Weather Service said the damage may have been caused by a tornado.

``It sounded like a bunch of rumbling coming through,'' said Johnny Hunt, a Chavis resident. ``.... I just did a Hail Mary and got on the floor. That's all I could do.''

In all, eight mobile homes were destroyed and three people injured in Robeson County, said emergency management director David Carter.

The other mobile homes destroyed were located along U.S. 74 in the Hidden Valley area near Maxton and in the East Howesville community, authorities said. Power lines also were down in Pembroke and Maxton areas, the National Weather Service said.

Heavy damage also was reported in Duplin County. A nursing supervisor at Duplin General Hospital in Kenansville said at least 15 people had come to the emergency room with storm-related injuries.

Sakura Beatty, who works at the Scotchman convenience store in Kenansville, said the storm knocked out power to parts of Magnolia, Kenansville and Beulaville.

``Ambulances have been running back and forth across town,'' she said.

The storm damage led Duplin County school officials to delay school openings by two hours this morning.

In Craven County, emergency response crews said high winds derailed a Norfolk Southern freight train near Bridgeton. A spokesman for Norfolk Southern said the train wasn't carrying any hazardous materials and that no one was hurt.

In adjacent Carteret County, authorities said a seafood restaurant and five homes were damaged.

A wind gust of 165 mph was reported in Jones County, the weather service said.

In Bladen County, one person was injured and at least three trailers overturned at the Monroe Mobile Home Park in Tar Heel, a county dispatcher said.

Mobile homes also were damaged in a community west of White Oak, the weather service reported.

In Onslow County, winds knocked down trees and power lines and flattened two barns in the Back Swamp Community. Structural damage also was reported in the Haw Branch area.

Earlier Thursday, hail and heavy rains were reported in Vance and Warren counties. A weather service spotter reported a cellular phone tower was blown down around 6 p.m., but the Warren County Sheriff's Department said it had received no reports of storm damage.

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