State News

Governor tours NC tornado damage areas

Gov. Mike Easley says it will be several days before officials know what type of government assistance to request for residents of central North Carolina who were hit by a tornado.

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley says it will be days before officials know what type of government assistance to request for residents of central North Carolina who were hit by a tornado.

Easley toured the damaged area Saturday in Guilford, Forsyth and Davie counties.

“My concern is that the people who have lost their homes and businesses are able to get their lives back to normal as soon as possible,” said Easley. “The state is helping local governments assess the damages and we stand ready to help in any way we can. The local emergency response agencies did an outstanding job responding to their citizens’ needs and are moving rapidly to clean up the debris.”

Preliminary assessments found Forsyth County had at least five homes destroyed, 12 with major damage and 33 with minor damage.

Easley said Department of Transportation crews will be available to pick up debris on roads, as clean up of storm damage continued Saturday.

“All of a sudden, you see people who are hurting and you just want to pitch in where you can,” volunteer Matthew Sink said.

Church pastor Matthew Sink brought volunteers together to help out his friends, Jeff and Mitzi Coe.

“They got a group together and came over to help us,” Mitzi Coe said.

The family moved into their Clemmons neighborhood five months ago with plans to remodel. However, a tornado has brought those plans to a halt.

“It was hard, I mean you don't know really, where to begin. You just pick a project and start on it,” Mitzi Coe said.

In Guilford County, at least 39 residences and various businesses had damages, including three planes at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

Davie County reported two homes destroyed, one mobile home destroyed, and multiple structures with major and minor damages.

One person was killed when the severe weather system roared through late Thursday and early Friday.

"We still have our house and we have our family, so we're very blessed,” Mitzi Coe said.

Several tractor- trailers and cars were blown off Interstate 40 and a section of the interstate was briefly closed due to the accidents and to remove damaged vehicles and debris. The interstate was re-opened by 9 a.m. Friday.

Downed trees and power lines caused tens of thousands of customers in the Triad region to lose power.

The storm system produced a tornado rated by the National Weather Service as a category EF2 on the enhanced Fugita scale, which means the funnel had winds between 111 and 135 mph.


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