Eyewitness saw tornado

Published 12:15 pm Monday, September 29, 2008

AULANDER – It was just like any other work day for Scott Uzell, an employee at Golden Peanut Company in Aulander…that is until shortly before 11 a.m.

Uzell can now say he is among a list of individuals who have witnessed a tornado, although that fact has yet to be confirmed by the National Weather Service.

Fortunately for Uzell, as well as others in the alleged twister’s path here in this Bertie County town, he was able to live to tell about the weather-related event.

“I was outside under a shelter when it started pouring down rain,” Uzell said, referencing a time of approximately 10:50 a.m. “The wind then picked-up very quickly and I could see debris spinning in the air.”

That flying debris was the prelude to an approaching tornado.

“I then saw the twister,” Uzell said, pointing to an area southwest of the Golden Peanut property. “It didn’t appear to touch down…it looked like it was about three to four feet off the ground.”

What Uzell saw next was even more unique.

“I saw a tree flying through the air,” he noted.

When asked if he didn’t mistake that object for a large limb, Uzell emphasized, “No, it was a tree.”

Uzell said the whole ordeal lasted less than two minutes. He added that it appeared to him, even though it was still raining extremely hard at the time, the tornado dissipated over a grassy lot located to the northeast of the residences that were affected by the storm on Bell Street.

Shelton Bryant was also an eyewitness, even though he admitted he didn’t see a tornado.

“I was at home watching TV,” said Bryant, who resides at Lot 120, Bell Street. “There was no warning. The rain came up pretty quick and then I heard a cracking, popping sound, like the sound of a tree falling. My whole trailer was shaking.”

Bryant said he went to the front door of his home and peered outside, but could not see anything due to the heavy rain.

“When it (rain) slowed down enough, I went outside and could see all this damage,” Bryant said, pointing up and down his end of Bell Street.

Just across the street, JoAnne Futrell and her grandchildren were inside her singlewide mobile home at 125 Bell Street.

“I heard a lot of rain and then a lot of wind,” Futrell said. “It shook the trailer and knocked the decorations off the wall.”

It got worse for Futrell and her grandchildren.

“It felt like the trailer tilted up on the right side,” Futrell explained, pointing to the southwest corner of her rental home. “Then it went back down and the electricity (inside the home) made a loud pop.”

On the exterior, Futrell’s home suffered some damage to its underskirting. One section of siding on the western side of the home was missing. Pine trees, limbs and other debris lined the streets and the yards.

But, as it was throughout the Bell/Elm Street neighborhood, no one was injured. And for all those affected, that was the best news of all.