Fatal storms follow in Irene's footsteps
Posted July 2, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Residents of eastern North Carolina already hit by Hurricane Irene were cleaning up Monday from yet another blow: storms fueled by three days of record, 100-degree heat that killed three people and knocked out power to nearly 90,000 people.
In Pitt County, William Henry Adams, 77, of Grimesland, died when the barn where he was moving his all-terrain vehicle collapsed.
A couple was killed in Beaufort County when a tree fell on their golf cart near Blounts Creek. Authorities haven't released their names, pending notification of family.
In Edgecombe County, storm cleanup turned deadly for a Fountain man, who was killed Monday morning by a falling tree. David Bottoms, 46, who worked for a landscaping company, was clearing trees, branches and debris at Maccripine Country Club near Pinetops when a huge tree gave way.
"The tree broke and chased him to the ground, and he couldn't outrun it," said Bottoms' friend Robin Applen.
His girlfriend, Peggy Bridgers, said the couple planned to go on vacation Monday, but that he was called in to work unexpectedly after the storm.
"I've lost people, but not like this," Bridgers said. "I'd (like to) tell him I love him because I still do."
In nearby Sharpsburg, neighbors were helping neighbors clear debris and sharing stories about the terrifying damage they experienced.
"You've got to return the favor," said Jesse Hill, who was helping his neighbor, Angel Horne, clean up after the storm on Monday. "They helped us last night, so we come over here and help them today."
Horne and her 12-year-old daughter, Jayme, were inside their Sharpsburg home on Floods Store Road when Sunday's storm hit. They hid under a mattress in the hallway, as straight-line winds pitched a large tree into Horne's bedroom.
"I just heard this explosion that was louder than anything you can imagine," Horne said. "The insulation in the house make it look almost like an avalanche, like a snowstorm, a white-out. It was all in our mouths and in our faces."
Horne said she saw a funnel cloud in a field in front of her house, but the National Weather Service has not confirmed any tornado touchdowns in the area.
Some of the homes and businesses damaged were just repaired after being struck by Irene last August.
Storm debris littered the Hickory Meadows Golf Course near Rocky Mount, where the owners had planned a grand reopening Saturday after repairing damage from Irene.
"We lost about 60 trees since Irene, and from what I've assessed from the damage today, it could be 60 again with this particular storm," Hickory Meadows owner Lori Strickland said. "You just reach a point where you have to keep going. That's basically your only choice."
For tobacco farmer Billy McDaniel, moving forward from the storm will be tough. He estimates the storm wiped out $100,000 worth of tobacco.
"It was one of the best crops we've had in a while," McDaniel said. "We were unlucky, but lucky in the fact that no one was hurt."
Beaufort County appeared to be hardest hit, with eight mobile homes destroyed and moderate damage to 50 other buildings. Two hangers were destroyed and the roof torn off the terminal at the airport in Washington. Approximately 40 people sought treatment for injuries at local hospitals.
Approximately 10 homes were destroyed or damaged in Edgecombe County.
"Edgecombe County took a major hit from the storm. Trees are down across roads all over the county, similar to Irene," Tony Everette, of Edgecombe County, said.
Linda Ripke's garage, motor home and SUV were destroyed in the storm. Uprooted trees crashed into her roof and powerful winds knocked her garage off its foundation.
"I've never seen wind that strong," Ripke said. "I do not want to see wind like that again because, you know when wind is strong enough to twist a tree like that, it's tornado wind."
With temperatures in the mid-90s on Monday, Progress and Duke Energy still had about 25,000 customers without electricity around noon. By 8 p.m., the number of outages was down to about 5,000.
Rocky Mount Public Utilities sent a crew to help restore power in New Bern.
The Red Cross sent emergency response vehicles to serve meals in Grimesland in Pitt County and the Sticks Drive area of Beaufort County, where a mobile home park was destroyed. The charity has opened a shelter in P.S. Jones Middle School, 4105 N. Market St. Extension in Washington.
Those seeking assistance from the storms can contact the Pitt County chapter of the Red Cross at 252-355-3800 or visit the Red Cross' website.