EF-2 tornado carves large path through Wake, Nash counties

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — Severe storms brought heavy rain, strong winds and fierce hail to central North Carolina on Monday. A confirmed EF-2 tornado even touched down in Wake County and Nash County.

The tornado cut an intermittent path across Wendell, Zebulon and Union Hope.

The survey team for the National Weather Service was not able to complete its survey Monday. The team is expected to release more specific details about the tornado Tuesday, but Brian Haines with NWS said the path is one of the largest he’s ever seen in North Carolina.

“It’s a tornado. Can’t do too much. Can’t run from it. It’s coming where it wants to go. It’s going to eat what it wants to eat. Unfortunately it got me,” Chris Richardson said.

Richardson is married and has an 11-month-old daughter. A house he was building and planned to move in to next month was caught in the tornado’s path.

“We’ll make it through it. Nobody got hurt, that’s a good thing,” Richardson said. “Things happen. Hopefully it happened for a good reason. I don’t know what that could be, but it is what it is.”

In Zebulon, Maggie Killette is thankful the tornado skipped past her home.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. We’re so fortunate that nobody was injured, but people have lost quite a bit,” Killette said.

Other homeowners took cover when the storm really started to flex its muscle.

“Got in the pantry and you could hear the wind just started howling,” Lee Adams said. “Then all of a sudden, a big crash and the entire house shook. I’m assuming that’s when this big tree came across the top of it.”

A farm in Wendell also sustained significant damage in the tornado. Trees were toppled and uprooted on the property, falling on fences and in areas where farm animals lived.

None of the animals were harmed, according to the farm owner. Also, amazingly none of the trees fell on the owner’s home.

However, the roof of a barn on the property was ripped up.

“It was nerve-wracking,” said Jason Hocutt, who owns Hocutt’s Child Care in Zebulon. “Basically, when you’re sitting there and you start to think, ‘Well, what do I do?’ And there’s nothing you can do. I just started driving and trying to get away from it.”

Hocutt said some trees were down as well as a fence at his business, but all the children and staffers were OK.

Heavy rain and wind accompanied hail in some areas Monday morning.

Hail caused major problems in Garner where numerous cars parked at Walmart and Lowe’s sustained shattered glass from hailstones as large as golf balls and even bigger in some cases.

A Wake County school bus was forced off the road on Colston Crossing in Zebulon. No students were on the bus and the driver was not injured.

Also in Zebulon, a tree fell through the home of an elementary school teacher. The teacher was not at home when the tree fell, but her pets — two cats and several ferrets — were inside the home.

While ABC11 crews were on scene, neighbors were able to pull the teacher’s ferrets out of a window safely. The condition of her cats has not been determined.

Just west of Zebulon, in the Lizard Lick area, the high winds knocked down a number of trees. Fortunately, nearly all of them just missed hitting houses and other structures.

At the Thompson home, the family was left with a mess but relatively little real damage. One tree left a huge scratch in the brick on the chimney.

“We had two big trees back here that were topped,” Cynthia Thompson said.

She said she was driving home when the storm hit but her husband was home.

“Before he blinked, it was over with,” she told ABC11. “And he even had a leaf that was halfway through the back door that had worked its way in.”

Thompson’s next-door neighbor, Beverly Currin, wasn’t quite as lucky. A tree fell and knocked a hole in the corner of her roof.

“It was leaking on the inside in my bedroom and in the door jamb,” Currin said. “And the water’s leaking down on the carpet getting it wet.”

She said she knew the storm was coming and sought shelter in her basement.

“I saw all the trees waving and rocking so I headed to the basement,” she said. “That’s what I did because I knew it was getting rough.”

When she emerged, half the big trees in her yard were down.

“It could’ve been worse,” Currin said. “It could’ve blown my house away and me in it. So I’m thankful that I’m safe by the grace of God.”

by WTVD (2019, May 14)

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Kyrie Wagner