Storms knock down power, trees

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chad Mitchell, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners OKd a state of emergency for the county requested by Frank Thomason, Emergency Management Division Coordinator. The state of emergency allows the county to activate parts of its disaster emergency plan to handle reports of damage.
As the sun came out this afternoon, power has been restored to Spencer.
Town Clerk Lisa Perdue and Green Goat Gallery owner Ann Waters reported at 1:45 p.m. that power came back on at about 1:30 p.m. Perdue said she had received no calls about major damage in the town.
Duke Energy’s web site listing county outages is back with data, reported 12,760 customers in Rowan still without power.
Mecklenburg County, with 42,872 outages, has the highest number in the state, followed by Guilford, with 28,075, and Gaston, with 17,532.
Davie has 1,006; Davidson, 3,364; Iredell, 4,211; and Stanly, with 705.
The fierce storms that blew through Rowan County early this morning left many people without power and others with damage from downed trees.
Corriher Heights Church on N.C. 153 near Landis was destroyed by fire. Emergency personnel have said lightning may be the cause of the blaze. The fire marshal and law enforcement were called to the scene because the church doors were open when firefighters responded.
Grass fires were reported on Old Beatty Ford and East Ridge Road, behind Bethel Lutheran Church. Reports indicated many trees and power lines were down on Old Beatty Ford.
Traffic lights and street lights were out in Salisbury, Spencer and Rockwell with numerous reports on the emergency radio of downed power lines all over the county.
Because so many schools were without power, Rowan-Salisbury Schools canceled school for today. Many children arrived at school, only to wait to reboard buses to take them back home.
Trees are down throughout Historic Gold Hill, though the buildings don’t seem to be heavily damaged.
A tree fell on a shed with a car inside on Old Beatty Ford Road, according to emergency radio communications.
There were several accidents this morning involving power lines, as well.
A power line was down in the 700 block of South Church Street, making it one lane in that area. Two orange cones in the street mark the site.
John Gurtowski said he heard a loud crash around 2:15 a.m. but thought it was just thunder. When he was out checking for storm damage at his 712 S. Church St. home around 5 a.m., he discovered a tree had fallen across his wife’s 2005 Chrysler Concorde, crushing the roof and shattering windows on the passenger side of the car.
“I though, ‘Oh, my gosh, she’s going to cry,’ ” Gurtowski said. “She was a little upset.”
The tree also took out sections of Gurtowski’s fence.
Emergency personnel heard on the radio reporting downed trees around the county, and said one woman reported she saw a tornado at her home.
The storm seemed to be most violent around 2 a.m., according to the emergency personnel, who have said that’s when they lost power.
Salisbury Post Assistant Sports Editor Mike London said about 2 a.m. there was a tremendous boom, “like something blew up” and severe wind that could be heard inside the building.
Although the lights are on in downtown Salisbury, downtown Spencer is dark, as is the N.C. Transportation Museum and many other areas. It appears there are pockets of light in some areas of town.
Traffic lights were out at Long and Innes streets, and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Innes, as well as along Statesville Boulevard this morning.
Duke Energy’s website indicates more than 250,000 people without power in its coverage area as of 5 a.m. Due to technical difficulties, the website this morning did not have a county-by-county breakdown. An e-mail from the company said, “The storm caused damage across the company’s Carolinas service territory, but the hardest hit areas with the most power outages include:
“· Our Nantahala service area, including the Hendersonville area
“· The central section of our Carolinas’ service territory, including areas such as Gastonia, Charlotte, Kannapolis, Mooresville, Salisbury, Shelby, Fort Mill, and York.”
An accident in the 800 block of Choate Road has brought down more power lines. The call to close schools came around 7:45 a.m. at some homes, later at others. Children at the schools are being taken back home on the buses or parents are picking them up.
For commuters, downed lines are blocking both sides of Interstate 485 in Charlotte, with delays of four hours or more. The I-485 closure is in the Carolina Place Mall area, and nearby N.C. 51 also is closed.
Check for further updates.
If you have photos of downed trees or other damage, please e-mail to Please send news about the storm, as well, or call 704-633-8950 and ask for the newsroom.