Rougemont, N.C. — Violent storms spawned up to eight tornadoes overnight Sunday that injured at least a dozen people, displaced more than 70 others and damaged dozens of homes and businesses.
National Weather Service staff confirmed Monday that a tornado packing winds between 70 and 85 mph struck Timberlake in Person County in the wee hours of the morning. The storms churned north from Charlotte through the Triad and up to Person County.
Gov. Bev Perdue is getting reports on the damage by emergency response staff, her spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said.
Five houses were damaged, some with their roofs ripped off, and a half-dozen outbuildings were destroyed in 3- to 4-mile radius around Meadford Oakley Road, Person County Emergency Service Director Michael Day said. No one was injured.
Day said the families he talked to were coping well with the damage.
"With just the structural damage, no lives lost, no injuries, it can all be replaced," he said.
A tornado blew down trees on Jason Bowling's property in Person County.
“It was real scary to me. The walls were going in and out,” he recalled.
Pieces of roof metal from his house and storage shed were also ripped away by the twister.
‘”I heard like a big freight train coming, so I jumped up and hollered for my wife,” Bowling said.
A few miles away, Crystal Vollers' barn was damaged by the tornado.
“It almost sounded like a bomb went off,” she said. “All of a sudden, it got quiet and then it started roaring, and we heard all the stuff crashing around."
Rougemont resident Michelle Hines said that she and her husband were asleep in their Stony Mountain Road home when they were awakened by two calls from WRAL's WeatherCall service.
"First one we heard, it was a thunderstorm warning. I said, 'OK, (WRAL Chief Meteorologist) Greg (Fishel), thanks very much. I'm going to bed,'" Hines said. "But when he called back and said tornado warning, I said, 'OK, let's get up and see what's going on.'"
Hines and her husband turned on the TV news, and she went to look out the back door.
"I heard just the most God awful roar," she said. "Then all of a sudden, the glass in the storm door was just shattered."
Shards of glass flew after the couple as they ran into a bathroom. Two tall pine trees crashed into the front of their house.
At least two other homes on Stony Mountain Road were damaged by wind and fallen trees and power lines. Toys were strewn out in the back yard of one damaged house.
Day said the people he talked to had gotten advance warning of the storm, either from media alerts or weather radios.
"Everybody that we've talked to this morning has had that they heard the alerts," he said. "So they know when something like this is coming in the middle of the night."
"I would have been fast asleep had it not been for that WeatherCall," Hines said.
Damage reported across N.C.
The National Weather Service was investigating seven other reports of possible tornadoes in Mecklenburg, Davidson, Guilford, Forsyth and Gaston counties. Straight-line winds also caused damage in Rowan County, and hail as big as golf balls was reported.
A tree fell near the emergency room of Halifax Regional Medical Center in Roanoke Rapids, so EMS crews were using the front entrance.
WFMY News reports that about a dozen people were injured and 70 people displaced in Davidson County. Between 20 and 30 homes were also damaged in High Point. Emergency workers rescued a paraplegic man who was trapped inside his partially crushed home.
WBTV reported major wind damage at a shopping center on U.S. Highway 29 in Spencer. The facade was blown off a Food Lion store and ended up about 100 feet away.
WJZY General Manager Shawn Harris said the storm blew trees down and damaged the Charlotte television station's building.
The weather service reports that a woman suffered non-life-threatening injuries when winds tore the roof off a building and tossed it into a mobile home park near Belmont.