‘The roof’s coming off!’: Baseball coach describes moment tornado hit Rowan Co.

MT. ULLA, N.C. — A tornado touched down in Rowan County during Thursday’s severe storms, blowing chaos through the region and demolishing structures in its path.

Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over the Mt. Ulla area where, according to a local baseball team, the roof of a historical YMCA blew off and at the elementary school where they were practicing.


Channel 9′s Eli Brand learned how this run-of-the-mill baseball practice at a YMCA in Rowan County turned into a disaster.

A U9 team was practicing at the Mt. Ulla Elementary School when the storm intensified, blowing the roof off the old YMCA nearby.

“I saw sheet metal starting to fly. So, I had my other coach that was there with the kids and he screamed, ‘the roof’s coming off!’” explained Chris Cooper, coach of the team.

Cooper says when he saw that roof fly, he moved without thinking. He and the other coaches grabbed the kids and hunkered down in a central hallway. (SEE PHOTOS ABOVE)

“They’re my own at this point so I’m going to do everything that I possibly can to protect those guys and to make sure that their life is safe,” he said.

The only part of the building that wasn’t hit by the tornado was the part the team was hiding in, Cooper says.

Friday morning, Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over other parts of Mt. Ulla impacted by the tornado. A structure outside a home was destroyed and trees were strewn across train tracks.

Caldwell County Damage

The storm system stretched into Caldwell County, where Channel 9′s Dave Faherty spoke with a family who say the storm interrupted a 7-year-old’s birthday party.

Tiffany Norton shared these photos of the damage around her home along H T Road, east of Lenoir.

Norton says eight people including several children were having a birthday party for her niece when the storm hit.

Several cars were damaged as trees came down around the home. Thankfully, no one was injured.

Caldwell Emergency Services told Channel 9 the damage was not from a tornado.

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Eli Brand

Eli Brand, wsoctv.com

Eli is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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