Damage, power outages left in wake of Wednesday storm

Posted February 24, 2016 7:08 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 2:04 p.m. EDT

— A line of severe storms moved through the central North Carolina on Wednesday, resulting in limited damage as several tornadoes were spotted throughout the region.

Isolated thunderstorms began popping up before dawn southwest of Raleigh, but strong storms did not begin until later in the morning. As temperatures increased throughout the day and sunshine peaked during the early afternoon, warm weather provided added fuel to a second batch of storms that made their way through the region.

Tornadoes were spotted in Vance, Cumberland and Granville Counties as the rest of the region experienced high winds and heavy rain.

Although most areas did not sustain serious damage, several reports of downed trees and damaged homes came out of Oxford.

Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins said one house was destroyed and others sustained serious damage in the Huntsboro community near Oxford. Winds tore the roof off one home near Oxford, and fire crews were searching for dogs that went missing from that home during the storm Wednesday evening.

The man who lived in that home was away when the roof blew off. His wife said he was stuck in traffic because of the storm.

"God had a reason for doing this. I don't know what it was, but I do know God made sure he wasn't home when it came through," said Pam McWilliams.

Sears Day said he felt lucky Wednesday night as he looked around at the damage on his dairy farm that's been operating outside of Oxford since 1943. Within seconds, two silos and a couple of pieces of farm equipment were gone as a result of the storm. Day was at another farm when the storm hit.

"I ran through a lot of hail and wind and I said 'that's it,' maybe we missed it. Then one of my employees called me and said, 'we got a mess'," Day said.

Day was relieved when he got back to the farm and more than 100 milk cows were safe.

"It's unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it," he said. "We were thankful we lost no animals and nobody was hurt, so that's the main thing."

Oxford hit hard by Wednesday storms

Dudley Barnes' mother lives just down the street from Day's dairy farm. He said his mom survived the storm by getting in a bathtub and covering herself with a blanket. Her house was not as lucky as she was.

"When she went out, the back of the house was off. One side of the house was off, the roof was off, but she's ok," Barnes said.

In Wayne County, a roof was torn off a home by strong winds in the Seven Springs community. A mother and children were inside at the time and were able to take refuge in a neighbor’s home. No injuries were reported, and the family was being assisted by the American Red Cross Wednesday night.

The frame of a retail building that had been under construction lay splintered on the ground Wednesday night.

Multiple downed trees were reported on area roadways, and a Dellwood Drive mother and children were uninjured after a tree fell on their Durham home while they were inside.

"It was a huge explosion. The rain and the wind was swirling," said neighbor Kimberly Wingate-Brown.

Wingate-Brown said that her neighbor was in the basement of her home when the tree smashed through a child's bedroom.

"She was visibly upset," Wingate-Brown said.

Tree split in Oxford

The storm wrote similar stories in other neighborhoods Wednesday afternoon. A tree carved into a home on RoseBriar Drive and the tops of surrounding pine trees were snapped off in the wind. On North Roxboro Road, limbs were spread across roofs of homes, with roots lifted into the air.

In Dunn, a storm moved through quickly during the early evening resulting in some flooding but very little damage.

No deaths or injuries were reported in North Carolina as of Wednesday evening, but authorities said at least three people had died as a result of the storms in Virginia.

The storm left thousands of people across the Triangle and east to Warren and Nash counties without power Wednesday night.