NASH COUNTY, N.C. — An EF-3 tornado with winds up to 150 mph was reported in Rocky Mount, a city on the border of Nash and Edgecombe counties, North Carolina, Wednesday afternoon, the National Weather Service announced.
The tornado’s path started just west of Nashville, traveling northeast through Red Oak, crossing Interstate 95 north of US 64 before running out of energy just before Scotland Neck, ABC affiliate WTVD reported.
The tornado was on the ground for sixteen and a half miles and was the first EF-3 tornado ever recorded in central North Carolina in July.
WTVD confirmed that 16 people did receive minor injuries.
(Photos: Tornado hits east of Raleigh)
Homes in the area were leveled.
Channel 9′s Jonathan Lowe and his crew went to Nash County, which is east of Raleigh, to talk with residents who were impacted by the devastation.
“I just lost my house,” James Powell told Lowe. “I just lost my house -- been living here since 2007 -- got to start over.”
Resident James Powell explained what happened when the EF-3 tornado roared through the area.
“I was in the house, walking through the house,” he said. “I just heard the storm outside, and I came to the door. I saw the wind blowing and stuff. By the time I turned around, trees were coming through the house.”
James Powell said he immediately took cover.
“I hit the floor,” he said. “I couldn’t do nothing. It fell on me. It actually fell on my back and took me down to the floor.”
He only suffered some scratches.
“I’m in here right now trying to get what I can get, because I don’t know what the weather is going to do,” Powell said. “So just trying to get what I can get.”
Powell’s parents live down the block.
His mom Evelyn Powell, who is an Edgecombe County commissioner, was at work when the storm hit. Her husband was at home and tried ducking under a table when the tornado warning flashed on TV.
“When he did, the entire roof came off the house,” Evelyn Powell said.
The twister destroyed both structures on her property, two vehicles, and a host of precious memories that they are now trying to salvage.
The destruction left drivers in limbo, as well.
Interstate 95 was closed near Rocky Mount due to obstructions, between Highway 64 and Highway 43. It reopened later in the day.
A Pfizer facility in Rocky Mount was heavily damaged.
“We can confirm that the Pfizer Rocky Mount facility was damaged by the tornado,” a Pfizer spokesman told WTVD. “At this point, there are no reports of serious injuries. We are assessing the situation to determine the impact on production. Our thoughts are with our colleagues, our patients, and the community as we rebuild from this weather incident.”
Nash County was placed under a state of emergency following the storm.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he has spoken with the sheriffs of Nash and Edgecombe counties and said state officials are providing other help as needed.
Officials will continue to survey the damage in the area.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
(WATCH BELOW: No tornadoes reported despite warnings from National Weather Service)
The Nash County sheriff warned people about scams during natural disasters:
- Beware of contractors or roofing representatives going door-to-door after a disaster.
- Call your insurance agent or insurance company before signing a contract or paying for repairs.
- Don’t let the contractor work directly with your insurance company unless your agent gives approval.
- Be aware of allowing lone individuals onto your roof. Scammers may use this tactic to create damage that was not previously there.
- Work with only licensed and insured contractors.
- Get more than one estimate. Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away.
You may visit www.ncdoi.gov for more information.
You can also contact (919)-807-6840 to report any fraudulent activity. This is the Fraud Line for the Department of Insurance.
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