Storms shake residents; no injuries reported
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Some western Rowan County residents are dealing with significant damage to their homes and cars after a severe storm ripped off roofs, toppled trees and took down power poles Saturday.
Residents on Old Mocksville Road and U.S. 601 reported two separate tornadoes touched down during the storm that moved through between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. with heavy rain and high winds.
The county’s chief emergency response official said Saturday night that tornado reports were still unconfirmed, but that about 20 houses sustained damage in the two locations.
As of Saturday night, no injuries had been reported in the local area, but residents remained rattled by close calls.
Deidre Miller was slowly driving west on U.S 601, barely able to see through the pouring rain, when she heard a loud crack. She hit the brakes to look behind her and saw that a large tree had fallen. Just then, another one slammed onto the back of her car.
Her 5-year-old son was sitting in the backseat.
“The first thing I did was turn and yell back there, ‘Caden, are you OK?’ ” Miller said.
He was, and the mother was flooded with relief.
Miller said she and her aunt, who also was in the car, helped the boy get out. The roof was crushed by the tree, and the doors were blocked by branches.
“I had to climb out the window,” she said. Looking at the carseat peeking out from thick tree limbs, she said, “Oh, God. My heart is still racing.”
Miller lives just off U.S. 601. Several other trees fell across that highway — and power lines — between Deal Creek Drive and Hidden Valley Road.
Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason said six or seven houses were damaged in the 6000 block of U.S. 601. Another 12 to 15 homes were damaged in the 6000 block of Old Mocksville Road and in the nearby Farrington Meadows subdivision, he said.
The storm snapped trees, shattered windows and ripped off parts of the roof at the Old Mocksville Road home of Omar and Paloma Monroy.
“We saw the (front yard) tree coming this way, and we ran to get away from the window,” Paloma said. “As soon as we were going toward the living room, that’s when all the windows broke. We got down to the floor and tried to cover our baby.”
The couple shielded their 3-week-old boy from the flying glass and debris until the storm passed. The wind tossed and overturned some items in the house, while others in the same room seemed untouched.
“I could see things flying inside, and the only thing I could think of was to cover my son and wife,” Omar said. “I was thinking about my family, not worried about my house.”
The three were shaken but unharmed, and they likely will stay with family until the debris is cleaned up and the windows and roof are fixed. Neighbors helped to make temporary repairs to the roof at the Monroys’ house and others nearby, covering open spots in case more rain came.
Old Mocksville Road remained closed between Young Farm Road and Baymount Drive on Saturday night. Power poles fell during the storm and crews were working to replace them. U.S. 601 reopened, but crews are still working to fix utility poles along the road.
As of 11:30 p.m. Saturday, 555 Duke Energy customers in Rowan County remained without power, down from 6,000 outages reported earlier. Most were clustered near those two areas, with others scattered east of Granite Quarry and throughout the county.
On Newport Drive, which runs through Farrington Meadows off Old Mocksville Road, the home of David and Nadine Potts could barely be seen through a tangle of large trees. Several had fallen on the house, all in different directions.
“He was downstairs and I was upstairs, and all I saw was white rain,” Nadine said. “I felt a thud, and I knew a tree had hit the house… It came through and it was gone, just like that.”
When the rain stopped after just a few minutes, the couple walked outside and carefully picked their way through the branches.
When first asked if the couple lived in the home, David laughed and said, “We used to.” They have insurance that should cover the costs, but it may take a while to repair the busted roof, cracked ceilings and other damage.
“We have a motor home out back that’s not damaged,” Nadine said. “I think we’ll stay in that … with our little Maltese dog.”
The couple continued to laugh and joke as they talked. When David pointed this out, Nadine told him quietly, “Well, you’ve got to. If you don’t laugh, you cry.”
Emergency responders went door to door checking on residents in Farrington Meadows, where the road into the subdivision was completely blocked by downed trees. Thomason said it appeared no one had been injured during the storms locally.
“There is some significant damage to the structures,” he said.
The green metal roof of a house on Newport Drive was torn apart, mangled and strewn across neighboring yards. One piece was caught in a tree next door. All but one small section of the shingles and wood underneath remained.
The metal pole holding a basketball net was bent on an Old Mocksville Road house, which also sustained roof damage.
Thomason said authorities didn’t yet know how many people lived in the homes. Those who can’t stay in their homes will be helped by the Red Cross, he said. If enough have been displaced, the county will open an emergency shelter.
Thomason said he will call in the state emergency management officials and the National Weather Service to determine if the damage was caused by tornadoes.
“We can’t confirm at this point whether it was an actual tornado or not,” he said. “We’ll be assessing that going forward.”
The storm caused other damage around Rowan County, including a downed tree on Fifth Street in Spencer and power lines down in the 9000 block of Cool Springs Road, according to emergency radio communications.
There were also reports of damage from a possible tornado in Davie County near Point Road.
The storms also caused the cancellation of events around the area. The Touch a Truck event for children in Salisbury was postponed to May 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Viva Verde Earth Fest in Cabarrus County was canceled and won’t be rescheduled, according to an email from organizers.
Have you seen other storm damage? Let us know in the comments section or call reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222. Post your photos in the SalisburyPostables section of our website.
Scott Jenkins contributed to this report.