BERTIE COUNTY, N.C. — At least two people have died and nearly two dozen more were injured after a tornado touched down in Bertie County as Hurricane Isaias was passing through North Carolina overnight.
”Up in the northeastern part of the state in Bertie County, we know we have at least one fatality, a number of people injured as a tornado hit a mobile home park,” Gov. Roy Cooper said on Good Morning America Tuesday morning. “We have search and rescue crews there.”
County officials also confirmed that a tornado touched down in the Morning Road area of Windsor.
”We are asking that our community allow us time to gather and properly verify more information from the various law enforcement agencies and first responders still working to secure the area,” officials said in a Facebook post.
Our sister station, WTVD, was reporting 20 people were injured.
Bertie County Sheriff John Holly said a second person was found dead Tuesday mid-morning. Around 2 p.m., the sheriff said that a woman and her two children, who initially were presumed missing, were found safe. The sheriff said it turns out the children were not in the area and their mother was at work when the storm hit.
Holly said everyone is now accounted for.
Some 10 to 12 mobile homes were destroyed, while only two were left standing, the sheriff said. Vehicles were tossed on top of each other and valuables were strewn about the area.
”I heard something sounding like the train and the wind was blowing and by the time we made it in the bathtub and I put my body over (her daughter’s), that’s when it hit,” Tenisha Thomas told WTVD.
Her home was destroyed. As was William Bond’s.
“The bedroom is standing, but the rest of it is gone,” Bond said.
Residents said that after the storm passed, they had to wait to be rescued as trees and debris blocked them from leaving their neighborhood.
”When it was over, I couldn’t find a way out of my bathroom,” Thomas said.
Search-and-rescue crews worked all day rescuing residents and getting them to safety.
“It’s a blessing to have our life; that’s all that matters,” Thomas said.
Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said National Weather Service meteorologists will be surveying in the next few days to confirm possible tornado touchdowns in three locations – on Bald Head Island in Brunswick County, near Windsor in Bertie County and near Menola in Hertford County.
Two others were killed by falling trees toppled by the storm in Maryland and New York City.
Isaias made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near Ocean Isle Beach in Brunswick County at 11:10 p.m. Monday. By 6 a.m. Tuesday, the storm had moved into Virginia.
”All in all, this storm got in and got out pretty quickly,” Cooper said. “And that’s a good sign for potential flooding, which we hope will not be serious. So we’re of course saddened by the one fatality that we know, at least that we have, but we know overall that this storm, moving quickly, that the damage was not anywhere as great as it could have been.”