Update: Tornadoes reported during storm

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 16, 2011

Western Rowan County residents are dealing with significant damage to their homes today after a severe storm ripped off roofs and toppled trees and power poles.
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 officials says tornado reports remain unconfirmed, but that around 20 houses sustained damage in the two locations.
The storm snapped a tree, shattered windows and ripped of parts of the roof at the home of Omar and Paloma Monroy on Old Mocksville Road.
“We saw the 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 are 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.
Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason said 12 to 15 homes were damaged in the 6000 block of Old Mocksville Road and in the Farrington Meadows subdivision on Newport Drive, which runs off Old Mocksville.
Around six houses sustained damage in the 6000 block of U.S. 601, he said. A tree fell on a car with three people inside on U.S. 601, but no injuries were reported.
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.
“There is some significant damage to the structures,” he said, including whole or partial roofs taken off.
Thomason said authorities didn’t yet know today 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.
Old Mocksville Road remained closed between Young Farm Road and Baymount Drive at 9:30 p.m. Power poles fell during the storm and crews are working to replace them. U.S. 601 has reopened, but crews are still fixing utility poles along that road.
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 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.
As of 9:30 p.m., 1,600 Duke Energy customers in Rowan County were without power, most clustered near Old Mocksville Road and U.S. 601, with others scattered throughout the county.
The storms also caused the cancellation of events around the area. The Touch a Truck event for children in Salisbury was called off and the Viva Verde Earth Fest in Cabarrus County was cancelled. Viva Verde will not be rescheduled, according to an email from organizers.
Have you seen 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.