Weather

Weather Service: Tornado outbreak sets record for NC

Posted April 22, 2011

The National Weather Service mapped three tornado tracks across central North Carolina on April 16, 2011.

— The National Weather Service said Friday that the number of confirmed tornadoes that tore across central and eastern North Carolina last Saturday is up to 28, which breaks the state record for the size of a tornado outbreak.

Meteorologists said a dozen supercell thunderstorms passed over the state, and some spawned families of tornadoes. On Tuesday, they had confirmed 25 tornadoes, and they have since added to the list EF0 tornadoes near Faison in Duplin County, in Jones County and near Bath in Beaufort County. 3D radar shows storms' intensity 3D radar shows storms' intensity

An EF0 tornado has wind speeds of 65 to 86 mph.

Five of the tornadoes to hit North Carolina were listed as EF3, with wind speeds of 136 to 165 mph. Those included twisters that traveled through Lee and Wake counties and through Cumberland, Harnett and Johnston counties.

The previous record for widespread tornado activity in North Carolina was on March 28, 1984, when 25 tornadoes hit 20 counties in eastern North Carolina, killing 42 people.

Twenty-four people, including 12 in Bertie County, died as a result of Saturday's storms, which affected 33 counties.

Final damage estimates aren't in, but state officials said Wednesday that preliminary estimates showed 133 people were seriously injured, 21 businesses and 439 homes were destroyed and 92 businesses and 6,189 houses sustained significant damage.

FEMA expands aid centers

The federal government has declared 18 counties – Bertie, Bladen, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Onslow, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wake and Wilson – disaster areas, allowing residents and business owners to apply for low-interest loans to repair and replace belongings.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency opened offices Thursday in Cumberland and Bertie counties to process aid applications. On Friday, the agency opened offices in Lee, Johnston and Wake counties.


View FEMA offices in a larger map

The FEMA offices will remain open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice, including Easter Sunday. The agency is also available by phone at 1-800-621-3362 or online.

FEMA spokeswoman Mary Margaret Walker said grant assistance is based on need, not income. Most claims can be processed within seven days, she said, allowing inspectors time to survey damage and talk with storm victims about their needs.

"This would be for people whose homes have been destroyed and are uninhabitable," Walker said.

About 140 people had visited the Fayetteville FEMA office by Friday evening, including Donald Raynor, whose home and classic cars in Linden were destroyed by a tornado.

Raynor, 66, said he doesn't have insurance coverage and needs assistance. He expressed some frustration about the process.

"They really didn't tell me what they could do for me. They didn't tell me what they were going to do. They just said I got my name in the pot," he said.

FEMA disaster recovery center sign Storm victims seeking federal aid

"We're going to survive, by the good Lord's help," he said. "He's looked after me so far, and he took me through (the storm) without a scratch."

Fayetteville resident Melissa Pollard said the storms knocked her power out for more than two days, forcing her to throw out all of the food in her refrigerator.

"It didn't hit our house. We were blessed by that," Pollard said. "I have three children at home. We can't not eat."

Likewise, resident Billie Arrington hoped to get some aid to make up for $200 in food that went bad when her home lost power. She said, however, that FEMA should focus on those who lost most of what they had.

"Help those families that actually lost their houses. That way, they can rebuild," Arrington said.

FEMA workers also were going door to door in storm-ravaged counties to offer aid for repairs, temporary housing and other needs.

57 Comments

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  • Fauxmittens Apr 25, 10:50 a.m.

    I am thoruoghly disgusted by WRAL and The News & Observer in their ommision in reporting on the tornado that hit Camp Lejune and Jacksonville. I have relatives there and didn't know that anything had occured there last Saturday. When I searched using "Onslow" County and "tornado" as keywords the only mention was the tornado that hit Belgrade, NC in 2008.

  • RM24 Apr 22, 7:56 p.m.

    "Has Wilson been forgot about? WRAL continues to report on Sanford, Raleigh, Cumberland Cty, and Bertie Cty - but what about Wilson Cty?"

    Wilson is in the WTKR viewing area, which is based in Greenville. WRAL has touched on all of the areas affected, but the lion's share of their coverage will be on affected communities in its own viewing area. Bertie county got special coverage on several stations because there were FOURTEEN deaths there -- by far the most in any single county.
    ndzapruder

    I do not disagree with you on what you are saying. However all I ever see is Fayetteville? Wilson is closer than Fayetteville. Micro had severe damage. Four Oaks had severe damage. I just get tired of seeing FAYETTEVILLE ALL THE TIME it seems. BUT maybe its me???

  • ndzapruder Apr 22, 7:44 p.m.

    "Has Wilson been forgot about? WRAL continues to report on Sanford, Raleigh, Cumberland Cty, and Bertie Cty - but what about Wilson Cty?"

    Wilson is in the WTKR viewing area, which is based in Greenville. WRAL has touched on all of the areas affected, but the lion's share of their coverage will be on affected communities in its own viewing area. Bertie county got special coverage on several stations because there were FOURTEEN deaths there -- by far the most in any single county.

  • ndzapruder Apr 22, 7:39 p.m.

    "The cutting of trees that were once windbreaks will allow the winds we face to grow stronger."

    W-what?! You mean like a beach breeze? It's the Appalachians' disruption of storm systems approaching from the west which is responsible for the scarcity of weather events like this one in NC. Trees don't break tornadic winds, hon. It's the other way around.

  • RM24 Apr 22, 7:32 p.m.

    Where is all the "sympathy" for those victims? Come to think of it, where are all the stories?
    gdaddy

    They make the news very frequently. And are usually filled with comments about how bad drunk driving is. And I agree with you with what you said. BUT if you think about it and look back the stories of Drunk drivers are posted nearly every day it seems.

  • woodrowboyd2 Apr 22, 7:04 p.m.

    Lets continue building more roads and new housing developments and we will continue to see the threat of these type storms grow.The cutting of trees that were once windbreaks will allow the winds we face to grow stronger.The new highways and asphalt parking lots will generate heat that will hold even after the wee hours of the morning.You may call it progress but the only thing our goverment sees is the more people in the state the stronger the amount in taxes they will receive.
    Its us the taxpayers that are getting it in both ends.
    Lets continue to grow and let the winds blow.

  • kjones026 Apr 22, 7:00 p.m.

    To Lauraleighs' comment; shame on those people calling in about golf. There is a channel devoted to nothing but golf and they run a scroll at the bottom, or top of the screen. Shame of them........

  • lauraleigh Apr 22, 6:37 p.m.

    My only complaint is that people were calling the station on Saturday, demanding golf news (!) while their neighbors were being threatened with death and destruction -

    and that I had to hear from a friend in another state about the mining accident in Idaho.

  • JustSayinToo Apr 22, 6:29 p.m.

    Has Wilson been forgot about? WRAL continues to report on Sanford, Raleigh, Cumberland Cty, and Bertie Cty - but what about Wilson Cty? There were hundreds of houses destroyed in Wilson Cty and all that has been covered was the Walgreens store and Dry Cleaners within the city limits.

  • dontgetmestarted Apr 22, 6:11 p.m.

    gdaddy - I do agree with you on the drunk drivers issue, but I don't feel "sympathy" should have to be rationed out. We shouldn't condemn sympathy for one group because another isn't in the spotlight at the moment. My heart goes out to all. Hopefully there aren't many stories about the drunk driver's at the moment because there have been no recent local deaths due to DD's. I have seen a few stories in the weeks past. They are definately senseless tragedies as they are 100% preventable!!!

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