Storms cause damage in Robeson, Scotland counties

Posted May 11, 2009 6:41 a.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2009 6:20 p.m. EDT

— High winds damaged several homes in Robeson County early Monday and downed trees in neighboring Scotland County, authorities said.

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service determined that straight-line winds gusting at 125 mph caused the damage and that no tornadoes touched down in the area.

Four or five homes were damaged along Elton's Road and Sadie Drive, off N.C. Highway 72 southeast of Lumberton, said Charles Britt, Robeson County Emergency Management director. Numerous trees were down, knocking power out in some areas, he said.

Virginia Britt said she had taken her grandson to school when she heard a tornado might have touched down near her Sadie Drive home. She rushed home to find her room torn off and her living room in shambles, but she said she was more concerned about her daughter-in-law, who lives next door.

"I had Ginger on my mind because I knew she was home, and I said, 'Oh my god ... Ginger is in there,'" said Britt, no relation to Charles Britt.

Ginger Britt's double-wide mobile home was blown off its foundation and blasted to pieces. The storm tossed bits of insulation and other pieces of the home into some nearby woods.

"Everything they had is gone. We just want everyone to pray that Ginger will be OK," said Pam Green, her sister-in-law. "Our family will be OK if Ginger will be OK. Our family will get through it."

Ginger Britt suffered several broken bones and was in the intensive-care unit at Southeast Regional Medical Center Monday evening.

Green said her sister-in-law already has survived cervical and thyroid cancers and has had a kidney removed.

"She has just been an inspiration to everyone she knows. The doctors thought that she wouldn't have still been here," Green said.

In neighboring Scotland County, high winds toppled trees in the Barnes Bridge and South Turnpike areas in Laurinburg. No homes were damaged, but the winds blew the roof off of a barn, seriously injuring two horses and downed a number of trees off Tartan Road, near the Scotch Meadows Country Club south of town.

The weather service reported that penny-sized hail also fell about 4 miles south-southwest of Maxton. Numerous trees were also reported down along U.S. Highway 301 near Raynham.

WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said the storms occurred along a boundary that separated warm, humid air over South Carolina and cooler air over the Triangle and much of eastern North Carolina.

Monday's high temperature at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport was 68 degrees, which was recorded at 3:30 a.m. Temperatures fell throughout the day and were in the upper 50s much of the day, Fishel said. The normal high for May 11 is 78 degrees.

Showers lingered in the Triangle during the morning before giving way to thick clouds.

"We still have some clouds to deal with ... but then much drier air will come in behind that (Tuesday), and after a little bit of morning fog, it should turn into a stellar day," Fishel said.

After another seasonal day Wednesday, moist air from the Atlantic Ocean will move across the state, increasing the chance of afternoon storms for several days, he said.

"Once we get into that pattern, it's going to be with us for a while," he said.