RALEIGHT, N.C. – Local and state emergency management crews conducted damage assessments Monday morning after suspected tornadoes yesterday took one life and caused damage in Greensboro and Rockingham County. National Weather Service meteorologists are visiting storm-damaged locations yesterday to make official determinations about tornado touchdowns and intensities.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and staff have spoken with local officials in Guilford and Rockingham counties yesterday and the governor plans to survey storm damage and joined a news conference with local officials this yesterday afternoon.
“We are greatly saddened to learn of a death from these storms, but are grateful that so many of our residents came through it safely,” said Governor Cooper. “Today cleanup begins, and we all need to pull together to help these communities pick up the pieces.”
Severe thunderstorms moved across the state Sunday, bringing straight-line winds, large hail, locally heavy rainfall, and reports of tornado damage. Local rainfall amounts of 2-5” were recorded across Portions of the mountains and Piedmont reported rainfall totals of two to five inches which caused flash flooding in some areas. Strong winds downed trees and power lines in numerous areas with gusts of 40 – 70 mile per hour winds recorded in the foothills and western Piedmont.
The city of Greensboro and Guilford County have both declared states of emergency. One person in Greensboro was killed, by a tree falling on a vehicle. Search and rescue teams have completed house-to-house searches in the affected areas in Greensboro without finding any additional fatalities. Guilford County Schools are closed today while cleanup and power restoration is underway and school officials are assessing damage to school buildings. One shelter is open in Greensboro, where the Red Cross is providing for people who need a place to stay. Yesterday, the Civil Air Patrol conducted an aerial damage assessment of Rockingham and Guilford counties.
Storms also left scattered damage in Mecklenburg, Iredell and Alamance counties, including downed trees and power lines. At 11:30 a.m. yesterday, about 33,000 customers were without power statewide, down from about 85,000 on Sunday afternoon. Most of the power outages yesterday morning were in Guilford County.
Damage assessments conducted by county and state emergency management officials over the next few days will help determine if this weather event will qualify for individual or community financial assistance from the state or federal governments.
North Carolina Department of Transportation crews are working to clear debris and downed trees from roadways and making sure storm drains are not clogged with debris. Yesterday morning, fewer than 10 roads were closed due to flooding or standing water and that was expected to clear quickly today. Downed power lines closed Interstate 77 north of Charlotte Sunday afternoon, but power crews responded quickly and cleared those lines, allowing the interstate to reopen Sunday evening.
Residents are encouraged to avoid damaged areas to allow emergency responders and repair crews full access. Motorists traveling through storm-damaged areas need to be especially mindful of downed power lines and nonfunctioning traffic signals.
“Navigating the roads in many of these communities is still dangerous,” said State Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “We want everyone to be especially careful as they travel and continue the clean-up process. Be sure to use proper safety gear if operating a chain saw. If your power is out, do not operate a grill or generator inside your home or garage.”