Published: 2009-11-12 06:35:00
Updated: 2009-11-12 23:23:55
Posted November 12, 2009 6:35 a.m. EST
Updated November 12, 2009 11:23 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — The remnants of Hurricane Ida transformed into a nor'easter off the North Carolina coast Thursday, causing wrecks on flooded roads and 15-foot seas in which the Coast Guard rescued four people from a sailboat.
Northeastern counties between Rocky Mount and Roanoke Rapids got the most rain Thursday, between 3 and 5 inches, and weather-related wrecks on slick roads were reported across the region.
Power outages were affecting more than 1,400 Progress Energy customers in North Carolina around 11 p.m. Most of the outages were scattered.
Wayne County schools dismissed early due to high winds and the threat of bad weather caused Duplin County schools to push their start time to 1 p.m. Friday.
Strong winds should subside on Friday, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.
In Halifax County, 40 mph winds whipped around, downing trees and overturning the sign at a church. Some residents stayed off the roads, but their vehicles still got pummeled.
A tree collapsed on three vehicles parked together at the Pittman family home in Enfield.
"I heard a big boom sound. And I just jumped right up to come to the door to see what it was," homeowner Maggie Pittman said. "I looked out front, and, you know, I saw the tree across the car port."
Two vehicles were smashed by the tree, and a third was damaged.
"It's like losing a family member actually," said Pittman's son, Anthony Pittman. "It hurts. It hurts real bad."
A downed tree also blocked Penny Road between Holly Springs and Graham Newton roads in Cary late Thursday night, officials said.
In Wake County, U.S. Highway 64 Business East in Wendell was shut down after a truck overturned on an exit ramp. The driver and a passenger were treated at WakeMed for minor injuries.
State troopers said the driver was going too fast around a curve when a strong wind hit the fully-loaded truck and the driver couldn't keep it on the wet road.
Strong winds knocked over a large tree at the Georgetown North townhomes in Raleigh Thursday night. Raleigh police said the tree caused a gas leak and knocked down two power lines.
In Warren County, a big tree fell on top of three tractor-trailers parked at a rest stop on Interstate 85 around 5:30 a.m. One truck driver was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. A second was trapped in his cab but got out without being injured.
Goldsboro police said the wet weather most likely contributed to a traffic crash that killed an 82-year-old man who was trying to cross U.S. Highway 70 early Thursday.
In western Halifax County, an 18-wheeler that ran off the road into a ditch in the Hollister-Brinkley area.
Early Thursday, downed trees and power lines closed roads during the morning commute. In Cary, a large tree fell on Southeast Maynard Road, near Ralph Drive, and caused two five-vehicle wrecks. The wind uprooted one tree that fell on an SUV in the parking lot of the Governor Morehead School in Raleigh. Power lines fell on a car on Corporation Drive. No injuries were reported.
Offshore, the Coast Guard received a distress call from the Wind Song II, a 52-foot sailboat with a broken mast and rudder, 113 miles southeast of Cape Lookout Thursday morning. A helicopter crew hoisted two people from the sailboat, and two people stayed on board while a Coast Guard cutter towed it to Fort Macon.
Officials said the Wind Song II was in 15-foot seas and 40 mph wind gusts.
Meanwhile, the rain fell, and flash flood warnings and advisories were issued throughout the day. For the most part, though, North Carolina escaped major flooding, although waters covered many secondary roads.
The Neuse River crept close to its banks in Smithfield, but by late afternoon hadn't caused any problems.
Along the coast, N.C. Highway 12 was closed around Rodanthe, and Onslow County emergency officials reported 2 feet of water covered N.C. Highway 210 on North Topsail Island at one point.
Franklin County officials said that flooding caused 33,000 gallons of untreated wastewater to spill in three locations between Franklinton and Youngsville. Cleanup will begin once the rain stops.
Many North Carolinians expressed attitudes like Pittman. Even though she lost three vehicles, Pittman said, she's grateful her house wasn't damaged.
"We are blessed," she said. "We are definitely blessed."