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Wind damages Bladen homes, displaces families

Posted March 29, 2009

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— Late Saturday storms tore roofs off buildings, downed power lines and displaced five families in the Bladen County community of Clarkton.

The National Weather Service reported a strong wind event in a one-mile area around Twisted Hickory and Mitchell Ford roads at about 9:20 p.m. The NWS was trying to determine whether it was a tornado or straight-line winds, which resemble tornadoes and rush from the sky at speeds up to 100 mph.

"It was just all of a sudden, a big bam! It was almost like a semi running into a cliff is what it sounded like," homeowner James Hilburn.

Sky 5 video of Bladen County wind damage Sky 5 video of Bladen County wind damage

The damage showed the storm's power: up to six homes damaged, the back of one torn to shreds; a roof sprawled out on a yard; cars buried in debris; power out to hundreds.

"It was a little worse than I had anticipated. There's some pretty severe damage to some of the residential structures," said Chief Deputy Phillip Little, with the Bladen County Sheriff's Office.

A horse was injured, but no people were, Little said. The five displaced families spent the night with relatives and friends.

James Hilburn's house on Mitchell Ford Road was spared major damage, but his carpentry workshop was destroyed as winds blew it across the road into a field.

"It just took everything down, except there's one side still standing," Hilburn said.

Cleanup was the main task on Sunday, and the sheriff's office planned to fly a helicopter to survey the damage.

"It could have been a lot worse. We could have had fatalities or serious injuries based on what I've seen here tonight," Little said.

Four County Electric crews were also making repairs Sunday.

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