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Lots of damage, but no tornado in Rowan, meteorologist says

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
CHINA GROVE ó A storm that pummeled Rowan County on Monday produced 100-mph winds but did not spawn a tornado, a National Weather Service meteorologist said Tuesday.
The evening storm caused severe damage. One of the locations hardest hit by the storm was Grove Supply, a 59-year-old floor and carpet business along U.S. 29 just north of the China Grove town limits.
The storm ripped much of the roof from the building. Shattered glass lay on the sidewalk Tuesday in front of the business. Insulation and other materials lay scattered around inside the store.
Vince DiCarlo, a warning coordination meteorologist, joined Rowan County Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason on a trek through the business to assess the storm damage. The two also went to another hard-hit area on Goodnight Road. DiCarlo said later there was no tornado Monday.
“No tornado, but straight-line winds, which are winds that are caused by a severe thunderstorm that doesn’t go around in a circle like a tornado,” DiCarlo said.
He estimated the winds around Grove Supply reached around 100 mph.
“That was the worst damage,” DiCarlo said.
A warehouse located directly behind Grove Supply housed a five-month-old business. The business owner, a California native, manufactures vents.
Most of the building’s brick exterior collapsed. Wind tossed the roof over the tops of nearby trees and across railroad tracks.
Heavy structural damage to building brought DiCarlo to Rowan, where he looked at the “debris pattern” and whether everything fell in the same direction to determine if a tornado caused the destruction.
Grove Supply co-owner Jerry Huffman called the damage to the main building significant. Huffman and other relatives who co-own the business returned Tuesday to assess the damage, make phone calls and clean.
Huffman said the owners will rebuild. But first, they planned to board up the windows, stretch a tarp over the open roof to prevent further water damage and bring in a trackhoe to clear a path for the other businesses located behind Grove Supply.
“We’ll continue to operate on a limited basis,” Huffman said.
The business will have to use a generator for power. Electricity was cut after the storm downed power lines.
This is not the first time storm damage temporarily hampered the company. In 1995, a storm ripped the rubber off the roof, Huffman said.
He still hopes to complete jobs that the company has had in the works, including one for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
Huffman said the business will operate temporarily out of Grove Motor Co., which is a few doors down.
The storm also pounded Goodnight Road with winds at an estimated 90 mph, the National Weather Service said.
Not far from Goodnight Road, residents on Mooresville Road experienced storm damage.
The storm was so ferocious that Kellie Martin, who lives on Mooresville Road, thought a tornado had struck.
Martin and her 4-year-old daughter, Reese, were at home having dinner when the wind, rain and hail began to whip through their neighborhood.
“The rain and wind was so heavy you could not see through it,” Martin said.
She and Reese went to the basement to wait out the storm. About 10 minutes later, the two emerged to what Martin described as a war zone with trees down in her yard and her neighbors’ yards.
“We got lucky it didn’t hit the house,” she said.
Martin said pine trees fell onto part of the family’s wooden fence and buried a pile of wood they’d just chopped from a previous downed tree limb.
She went outside to assess the damage and saw neighbors looking at their fallen trees. One neighbor’s fallen tree took down power lines. Martin said she still had power.
She suspects her family will have to trim some of the trees that fell and are now leaning on a neighbor’s property.
“The cleanup will take a while, but we can still maneuver around,” she said.
Anyone who needs to contact Grove Supply can call Grove Motor Co. at 704-857-2886.

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