Published: 2013-11-26 18:10:00
Updated: 2013-11-27 17:01:07
Posted November 26, 2013
Updated November 27, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Two people suffered minor injuries when the roof blew off their condominium in Atlantic Beach along the North Carolina coast in what the National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday as a tornado.
Atlantic Beach Manager Robert Allsbrook said two of the four buildings in the Ocean Sands complex were damaged Tuesday night and as many as 15 people were in the condos when the storm hit. Two buildings also were damaged at the Island Beach Racquet Club and three people were evacuated from them.
"Suddenly, it was like an explosion," said Bill Fiss, who was staying at Ocean Sands. "The windows just blew out and just slammed me into the door. It happened so fast."
Mel Hoard, who was also at Ocean Sands, said he reached out and grabbed a door frame when the winds began whipping about.
"Literally, my feet came off the floor. Two, three seconds and boom – I'm on the tile floor," he said.
The weather service classified the tornado as an EF2, which has winds from 111 to 135 mph. Fire Chief Adam Snyder said the damage is the worst he's seen in his 16 years in the area.
"It almost looks like something you'd see on the news in the Midwest," Snyder told WITN-TV.
Minor damage was reported at Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City, though it was fully functional and had not diverted any patients.
Carteret Community College in Morehead City canceled classes Wednesday because of storm damage. One student hit by flying debris was not seriously injured.
The college's student center was damaged, as was the building used for basic law enforcement training, but the school said it would reopen Monday.
"We took quite a hit," said Joe Rufra, training director.
"Safety is our main concern. There's a lot of debris and some power lines are down," said school president Kerry Youngblood.
In the Mandy Farm neighborhood in Morehead City, trees that once lined the streets turned into missiles during the tornado.
"It's amazing in 20 seconds how much damage was done," homeowner John Farmer said.
He said he hit the floor when he heard the sudden roar and felt his home shake.
"I felt like the house, maybe the roof, was going to come off," Farmer said.
Windows in the Crystal Coast Civic Center were damaged.
Trees and power lines are down in the area and most of the 1,000 customers in Atlantic Beach who lost power have had it restored.
At one time, Duke Energy Progress reported about 6,000 customers without service in Carteret County. At least 500 customers were still without service Wednesday morning.