Local News

Roofs 'peeled back like a banana' when downburst hits Benson

Posted August 15, 2019 8:38 p.m. EDT
Updated August 16, 2019 5:08 p.m. EDT

— Cleanup was underway in Benson Friday after strong storms moved through Thursday night. Residents woke up to downed trees and power lines and some damaged roofs.

A National Weather Service report at 6:45 p.m. Thursday said that at least 40 trees and multiple power lines fell, damaging several houses. Roads were flooded and there was also a water main break.

WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said the damage likely came from downburst winds rather than a tornado.

When a storm is high in the atmosphere, it pulls cold, dense air, which falls to the ground like a water balloon, she said.

That can cause the same damage as a tornado, Gardner said.

On Friday morning, parts of a roof were still on the ground at Gilbert Street.

“I thought we’d had a hurricane,” said business owner Danford McLamb. “I sure did. Tornado or something.”

“There had to be some strong wind,” he continued, surveying the damage.

High winds peeled the roof right off Precision Transmissions, scattering pieces down the street and drove loose nails into the body of a car.

"It tore the roof off. It peeled it back like a banana. The roof is all over the town," said Bailey Daughtry. "It's just everywhere."

He says rain poured into the family business.

Tony Whitman said it sounded like a truck drove through his house. Debris blown from elsewhere gouged holes in his roof, and rain flooded through the gaps.

While much of the town’s power had been restored, crews were still repairing downed poles Friday morning.