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Tropical Storm Michael upends trees, knocks out power to thousands in Rowan County

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Donna and Harry Devlieger were at their Yost Farm Road home just after 2 p.m. Thursday when they heard a crash. Two trees fell around their home, immediately shutting off power.

“I screamed,” Donna said.

She was in their computer room when the trees toppled down. One tree in the front yard fell onto utility lines and wiped out an antenna and their power box. A neighbor’s tree fell over a metal fence, crashed into the couple’s backyard and landed on a utility shed with some antiques inside.

Harry said he recently repaired the roof of that shed, which was reduced to a crumpled heap underneath the tree. He had plans to repair the floor.

“We are thankful it didn’t hit the house,” Donna said of the tree.

She said officers with the Granite Quarry-Faith Joint Police Authority roped off the area around the tree. She called 911 because of a burnt smell in and around the house. She said that according to the Granite Quarry Fire Department, the power line had an arc, which happens when the line shorts out.

The Fire Department contacted Duke Energy on behalf of the couple, who suspect they will be without power for at least a day.

“We are thankful nobody got hurt,” Harry said.

Power failures

At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, more than 400,000 Duke Energy customers had no power across North Carolina and South Carolina. Some 20,569 Rowan County customers, or 32 percent, had power failures. Energy United reported 103 customers without power and 1,129 customers with no power through Union Power Cooperative.

Duke Energy serves 4 million customers in the Carolinas. More power failures are expected as heavier winds on the back end of Tropical Storm Michael knock down trees and power lines, said Randy Welch, district manager for Duke Energy.
 
Welch, who provided an update to Rowan County officials, said crews worked to restore power throughout the day after strong winds and excessive rain moved through the area. Calls increased during the last two hours of the storm.
Evacuations/road closures
Just after 2 p.m. Thursday, Rowan County Emergency Services, Rowan Rescue and West Rowan Fire Department personnel had to evacuate people from a residence in the 900 block of Childers Road in Mount Ulla as the water rose in that area.

Earlier Thursday, roads in Salisbury became impassable with flooding at West and East Park roads, Arlington and East Innes streets, Old Concord Road and South Arlington Street, 600 S. Church St., 2100 Statesville Blvd., 600 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., 200 S. Craige St. and 200 S. Shaver St.

The Granite Quarry Fire Department cut down a tree that fell on the railroad tracks at Railroad and Depot streets, just off South Salisbury Avenue.

A tree blocked Faith and Heilig roads at the Crane Creek bridge. On South Fulton Street near East Innes, Salisbury city crews worked to clean up a tree that fell across the street.

The National Weather Service in Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, said Tropical Storm Michael will continue to weaken as it moves away from the area. Gusty winds will persist into this morning, and a cool high pressure system will settle over the area, bringing cooler and drier air into the region through the weekend.

Officials said moisture will begin increasing early next week ahead of a slow-moving cold front, increasing the chance of showers across the area.

Weather experts expect a typical fall day today with mostly sunny skies and light northwest winds. Highs are expected to be in the 60s in the mountain valleys and the low to mid-70s outside the mountains.

“Tropical Storm Michael still packs a deadly punch of punishing wind and rain, and it’s still sweeping across our state,” said Gov. Roy Cooper during a Thursday afternoon briefing.

A man was killed in Iredell County when a tree fell on his car on Mocksville Highway in Statesville.

Cooper said he knows people are growing weary of the weather but they must remain cautious and alert.

“We want to prevent tragedy and save lives,” he said.

Rowan-Salisbury schools closed Thursday, and officials said 10 schools in the district were without power.

“We will continue to monitor these power outages and road conditions this afternoon into this evening,” officials said on social media.

Iredell-Statesville schools will be on a two-hour delay today.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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