GOLDSBORO, N.C. — All of Goldsboro saw storms Friday evening, but the bulk of the damage happened in a small part of town, near U.S. Highway 70 and Wayne Memorial Hospital, where cleanup was under way Monday. By all accounts, it happened in a hurry.
Monday, crews worked to clear the twisted metal and downed trees left by the winds that blew at nearly 100 mph. The buzz of chainsaws, the strong smell of freshly cut pine, and streets covered in wood splinters and pine needles made it clear that this was not the typical summer storm.
According to the National Weather Service, the large-scale downburst brought straight-line winds of at least 80 miles per hour. Emergency calls started coming into the 911 center around 6:20 p.m. Friday reporting damage throughout the city.
People say the storm lasted less than a minute. Officials say it will take weeks to clean up
“I've lived here about 50 years, and I've been through three major hurricanes — and I've never had anything like this to happen,” William Poler said after more than a dozen large trees fell in his yard. One crushed his storage shed, and at least two hit his house.
A large tree crashed on Katrina Lee's roof, too.
The tree came “through the ceiling into our kitchen,” and the house had “water in our kitchen and our bathrooms,” Lee said.
She was driving home when the storm hit, she said.
“We thought it was a tornado, and my car almost turned over when I was driving home,” Lee said.
The Days Inn is believed to be the most heavily damaged structure. It lost its roof. A condemned sign hung on the building Monday, and city officials said they expected it would have to be demolished.
Overall, the city said there are 23 homes with reported tree damage, four of them with major problems. The storm hit four businesses, including the Days Inn, they said.
The lucky part of the storm was that there only seven injuries and the most serious was a broken leg. One person in the motel parking lot narrowly escaped serious injury running from their car into the motel mere seconds before the roof crushed the vehicle.
“We heard like a big boom, boom, boom sound and the transformer blew the lights went out, said Stephanie Whaley, who was working behind the check-in desk when wind ripped off the roof of the Days Inn.
The staff scrambled to rush nearly 100 guests out of the building.