Weather

NWS: Five tornadoes hit N.C.

Posted October 28, 2010 6:09 a.m. EDT
Updated October 29, 2010 1:32 p.m. EDT

— Five tornadoes touched down in North Carolina during a wild storm Wednesday that damaged homes and churches.

National Weather Service meteorologists who surveyed the damage Thursday said they found evidence of  two tornadoes hitting Person County and three others which affected Orange, Granville and Vance counties.

Seven tornadoes warnings were issued for those four counties on Thursday.

"If it's a tornado, we like to see trees laying down ... across each other in different directions," NWS meteorologist Brandon Dunstan said.

The tornadoes had winds between 80 and 85 mph and were produced by the same storm system.

Some of the most dramatic damage was done in Person County, which saw three separate tornado warnings.

Winds tore a house on Apple Tree Lane south of Roxboro, off its foundation, pushed it 30 yards and spun it around. Geraldine Nash, 73, was home with her dog at the time

"I heard something hit the house, thought it was a tree," Nash's neighbor, Lorena Trotter, said. "When I saw her house, I lost it."

Nash and her dog, though, were both unhurt. Her daughter and her grandson who also live there were away at the time.

"I'm alive. Praise God, I'm alive," Nash said, when she surveyed the damage Thursday.

"He had us in the hollow of his hand, and he protected us," Trotter said.

The Red Cross has put Nash's family up in a hotel for three nights until they can stay with family in Roxboro. Family members said that they were renting the house and its owner has insurance.

The worst damage in Orange County was concentrated in the Cedar Grove area.

The cinder block wall of White Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Carr Store Road exploded outward, likely due to a pressure differential, firefighters said. Trees fell in the church cemetery.

"It hurts, but it can be replaced," said Betty Neal, who has been a member of White Oak Grove church since childhood.

Neal said that church members are determined to rebuild. "(We'll) just continue to band together and just trust in God. That's all we can do," she said.

Pastor William Alston said the damage is heart-breaking, but he's been encouraged by other churches that have offered to help.

"It means love and happiness, because they think enough of the old primitive Baptist church to come by and to offer to help," said Alston, who's been with the church for 13 years. He said the church had insurance coverage.

Amy Sindermann had just moved into her Orange County home one week before severe weather ripped the house's room off. The storm left her garage flattened and her storage shed gone.

"I still find myself thinking what if and driving around and bursting into tears every once in a while because there could have been a lot of what ifs," she said.

Sindermann said she was at work when the storm occurred but her 13-year-old son was home with a friend.

"I am very, very grateful that he knew what to do. He kept his head. He climbed in the closet," she said.

In Vance County, winds ripped part of the roof off a gas station at Satterwhite Point Road and U.S. Highway 158. No one was hurt, but the station sustained more than $25,000 in damage.

Two buildings were demolished on Elam Currin Road in Berea, according to the Granville County Sheriff's Office. A mobile home on Joe Pruitt Road was shifted off its foundation.

Betsy Mauldin returned to her Berea home to find a shed torn apart and its contents strewn across her yard, but her home was undamaged.

"We were so blessed we were not here when it happened," Mauldin said. "I probably would have had a heart attack if I had been here."

One man said he had a close call while driving along Satterwhite Point Road near Kerr Lake when a tree fell on his pickup-truck on Wednesday night.

Downed trees and power lines were reported throughout counties north and west of the Triangle.