Local News

Cumberland, Sampson counties continue clean-up after series of storms

Posted June 15

— Thunderstorms are always a possibility during the summer months, but recently storms have pounded Sampson and Cumberland counties and residents are still trying to clean up the mess.

Post-storm cleanup was underway in Stedman Thursday after strong winds knocked a tree into the Town Hall building.

A 60-foot ash tree toppled onto the building Wednesday evening and created a gaping hole in the roof.

“The area that was damaged is out kitchen are and our town board meeting area and they’re used only one day a month, more or less,” said Mayor Billy Horne.

The town’s administrative assistant, Rebecca Johnson, was in the main office on the other side of the building when the storm hit. Horne sad Johnson is OK and didn’t know that the tree had fallen on the building until she came outside.

 Strong storms cause tree to topple on Stedman Town Hall

Horne estimates the storm caused about $35,000 worth of damage.

The mayor said he has lived in Stedman for about 70 years and can’t remember a time when so many storms came through the area in such a short period of time as they have this year.

Last month, a tornado ripped through the nearby town of Autryville and damaged several buildings and several other strong storms have caused minor damage in recent weeks.

Jody Conrad has fond memories of the Autryville Fire Station, which had it's roof torn off during the tornado.

"When it was lifted up, it kind of twisted back and landed on the convex back here. This here was our living quarters," Conrad said.

Nathan Freeman has spent time helping neighbors recover and he and his son repaired a flag pole for an elderly man who couldn't do it himself.

Freeman got a glimpse of the fire station after the power went out in his home.

"So, I went outside to see if it was just my house or the whole neighborhood. I looked up and half the fire department was going around in circles with that twister,' Freeman said.

Crews spent Wednesday clearing debris around the old fire house. Conrad said the building will be leveled to make way for a new station.

"They're going to leave the foot print and then the inspectors are going to come in and see what's good, what's bad. They have decided that the building is compromised, so it's going to go down to nothing but foundation," he said.

The May storm downed trees and destroyed several homes, including one belonging to James and Torrie Locklear. Their mobile home is gone and, down the road, crews were loading piles of storm debris into trucks to be hauled away.

Despite the damage, the community is not without first responders and fireman said they're ready to roll out of their mobile command center.

"Actually, we've been pretty slow lately, which is a good thing because we still have a lot of stuff to do to get back on our feet," Conrad said.

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