Only on 9: Man risks life to help a mom, daughter trapped in Cherryville storms

CHERRYVILLE, N.C. — A man told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon he was thrown by wind while helping a mom and her daughter during Tuesday night’s storms.

According to the National Weather Service, the City of Cherryville was hit by straight-line winds.

(PHOTOS: Viewer photos from Tuesday’s storms)

Many were hit by severe storms, but Cherryville was one of those hit hardest. A spokesperson for the Red Cross told Channel 9 they met with impacted families and assessed damage to about seven households in Gaston County.

Cherryville’s mayor said Wednesday afternoon that a state of emergency has been declared for the city, which means they’ll get more resources to respond to the aftermath.

Lemon was out on North Jacob Street Wednesday afternoon as crews worked to clear debris. A transformer had fallen to the ground and power lines had been knocked down, all by a tree that had toppled onto a home. Crews used chainsaws to section the tree into smaller pieces.

One neighbor told Lemon they heard hard rain and then calamity when the tree fell. Several neighborhoods throughout Cherryville saw much of the same, with trees on multiple homes.

Lemon learned no one was seriously hurt in the storms.

VIDEO BELOW: Man’s home deemed unsafe after tree crashes onto it during storm

‘By the grace of God that I’m here’

Perhaps the worst injuries were the ones a man suffered while helping a mom and daughter who were trapped in their car. He risked his own life to save theirs.

Jason Day said he was on his way to get his daughter from a softball game when he found the car. He said the wind caught him while he was trying to help them and whisked him into the air. His last memories of that night were sitting in his car, waiting to leave the park when a tree fell on a car right beside him. He went in to help and doesn’t remember the wind sweeping him away.

A witness told Lemon that Day was thrown as high as the power lines, about 40 feet in the air, before he came back down to the ground.

Day was out of the hospital on Wednesday afternoon and spoke to Lemon about surviving the experience.

“It was by the grace of God that I’m here. I mean that’s the only thing that I can attribute that to,” he said.

Day has stitches on both sides of his face and 12 staples in his head. He said he remembers the blistering storm whipping debris everywhere. He was on the phone with his wife and in line with several others cars that were also leaving the park.

“I looked over to my right and I see a tree starting to fall,” he described.

It fell on a car with a woman and her daughter stuck inside.

“He said that tree fell on that car. I have to go get those people out.’ And that was the last thing I heard,” said Jason’s wife, Stacie Day.

“My first reaction was to get out and see if they are alright,” Jason said.

He never made it to the car under the tree. A witness told Lemon a huge gust of wind swept up a large branch and Jason Day with it. He landed on the grass.

“I mean it knocked me out. I didn’t know anything until I was in the hospital,” he said.

Day has stiches and staples now after a night in the hospital for an act of kindness he can’t remember.

“I’d do it all over again. What I was trying to do is help somebody,” he said.

‘The closest thing to Hugo that I have seen’

The Cherryville mayor told Lemon they haven’t seen storms like this since Hurricane Hugo.

“Personally, I would say it’s the closest thing to Hugo that I have seen,” Mayor Henry Lee Beam said. “There’s damage everywhere. It was not just in one single area.”

The Red Cross offered its condolences to those affected by the storms.

“As our teams work with families impacted, we are certainly thinking about them and want to provide all the support we can,” said Allison Taylor, the Regional CEO of the American Red Cross Greater Carolinas. “This devastating event reminds us that disasters can happen anywhere at any time. With severe spring storms imminent, we ask the community to stay prepared by making an emergency kit, creating a plan with your family, and making sure you have a way to receive weather alerts, such as the Red Cross Emergency App.”

According to Mayor Beam, about 55 structures were damaged in the storms. Antioch Church has provided 200 dinners and a shelter has been set up at Shady Grove Baptist Church.

50% of the power lost in the storms was restored by 2 p.m. Wednesday, Beam said.

“We have a close-knit community here. Neighbors help neighbors,” Beam said.

NWS: Cherryville hit by straight-line winds; schools closed

The National Weather Service said it was straight-line winds of up to 80 miles per hour that hit Cherryville Tuesday.

Chopper 9 flew over that area Wednesday afternoon. The wind knocked down trees, power lines and damaged dozens of buildings.

Crews are still working to get the lights back on in some areas, especially to schools.

Gaston County Schools announced four Cherryville schools will be closed on Thursday: Cherryville Elementary School, W. Blaine Beam Intermediate School, John Chavis Middle School, and Cherryville High School.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

(WATCH BELOW: Storms cause widespread damage in Cherryville)