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Officials urge caution as storms roll through

SALISBURY — A funnel cloud was reported over Elm Street on Wednesday as one of several severe storm fronts moved through the area. No serious damage was reported. But with a tornado watch in effect overnight and North Carolina having been hit by 28 tornadoes on April 16, emergency officials urge caution — and are taking extra steps.
Rowan County Emergency Management Division Coordinator Frank Thomason and others set up an emergency operations center Wednesday in the Rowan County Agriculture Center on Old Concord Road, with tables, chairs, phones and computers.
Thomason activated a Level 3 operation center, meaning the need for the center was probable or imminent. Emergency personnel and firefighters were asked to be on standby starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Thomason offers tips for folks facing bad weather or storm aftermath:
• Be wary of power lines. With wind, power-line safety is of utmost importance, Thomason said. Do not go near downed power lines or power lines entangled in trees.
• Be prepared to go several days without power if the storm is widespread and we have significant power outages.
(The National Hurricane Center recommends these items for storm disaster kits: water, food, blankets and pillows, rain gear and sturdy shoes, first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, battery-operated radio, weather radio, fully charged cellphones, cash and credit cards, keys, tools — and a full tank of gas in your car.)
• Closely monitor conditions through local media and the National Weather Service on a weather alert radio. The weather alert radio is one of the key things any individual or family can do to stay on top of what’s going on. It provides as advanced a warning as is possible. The radio issues watches and warnings. A watch means that conditions are right and a storm is potential. A warning means that the condition is already occurring or is imminent.
• Make sure your pets are safe, too, and have plenty of food in case you are unable to leave your home.
• If Rowan has entire neighborhoods or areas that are impacted significantly, resist the urge to go see them. Thomason said emergency crews understand the curiosity, interest and concern, but he urges the public not to get out and view the damage. Such traffic can really hamper the response of the first responders into the area of recovery.

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