ROCKINGHAM — Strong winds associated with a line of storms that passed through North Carolina just after daybreak Monday downed trees and left thousands without power for hours.
Rockingham Fire Chief Harold Isler said his department received around 20 calls between 7 and 8 a.m.
“There’s trees across the road everywhere,” he said, noting that the Richmond Park and Roberdel areas were hit hard.
Of the reports, Isler said there were at least four trees that had fallen on homes.
Another landed on a van in front of Carter Funeral Home while the driver was traveling. Isler said she had minor lacerations and was complaining of back pain.
At the time, the chief said he had not yet received all of the damage reports.
As of 7:40 p.m., there was still at least one traffic light not working.
In Cordova, first responders dealt with eight downed trees, according to Jeremy Chance, chief of Cordova Fire and Rescue.
Chance said one tree fell through a building and a boat on Zion Church Road and another tree smashed a camper.
East Rockingham Fire Chief Bill Bayless said his crew cleared several trees out of roadways, but no power lines were down.
Hamlet Fire and Rescue responded to two trees down, including one on N.C. 177 S, early Monday before the storm passed through, according to Assistant Chief Richard Lassiter.
“Once it started, we had them everywhere,” he said.
Lassiter added that the areas around Spring Hill Church Road and Scholl-Shankle Road were the worst.
The winds blew the roof off of a barn on Spring Hill Church Road and the tin across the street, Lassiter said. The roof of a building on Front Street was also peeled back and blown off.
In all, he said there were 27 trees down in the department’s coverage area.
Large trees on Oakhurst and Bridges streets had to be removed with a back-hoe.
“We’ve been very fortunate that we just had a few trees down,” he said, referring to the areas in the South that were hit with tornadoes, racking up a death toll of more than 30.
There were a lot of trees that were blown down parallel with the road, he added.
In the northern end of the county, the damage ranged from one across a road in Hoffman to more than a dozen in the Northside Volunteer Fire Department’s district.
Northside Chief Ed Causey said his department responded to at least 20 trees across roads.
“We were out a pretty good while,” he said.
There were some that firemen couldn’t get to, so they were flagged for the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Causey said a few homes and vehicles were damaged, but no injuries were reported.
Ellerbe Fire Chief Will Barber said there were six to eight trees that knocked down power lines and that he saw a few trees on vehicles, but none on houses.
Mountain Creek Fire Chief Keith Smith reported a tree had fallen on N.C. 73 W and another large tree on Cemetery Road.
He added that a Pee Dee Electric Switch on Clayton Carriker Road had shorted out and was arcing, but it has since been repaired.
Over in Derby, Chief Alan Hogan said there were about 15 trees and power lines down.
Patterson Road was blocked for several hours after several trees knocked down power lines across the road.
Hogan added that the roof of a chicken house was damaged by the winds.
As of 8:30 p.m., Pee Dee Electric was reporting a total of 2,096 customers still without power in Richmond, Montgomery, Stanly, Moore, Anson, Scotland and Union counties, with 984 in Richmond.
There was no restoration time available.
Communications Specialist Seth Allen said crews have been working since 5:30 a.m. and will work throughout the night and there are crews from other energy cooperatives coming in Tuesday.
Duke Energy reported that more than 72,000 of its customers were without power across the Carolinas. Out of its 15,171 customers in Richmond County, 3,752 were still in the dark as night fell.
The estimated restoration time is 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Other counties may not have lights again until Wednesday.
The National Weather Service lists the top wind gust for Richmond County as 41 mph at 7:45 a.m. north-northeast of Rockingham. But many of the first repsonders the RO spoke with believe the winds were stronger.
Lassiter also mentioned there were several pines with the tops twisted out.
The highest wind gusts measured in the region were 68 mph in Maxton.
The NWS also confirms that an EF-1 tornado touched down near Saxahapaw in Alamance County. No injuries were reported.