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Storms rattle Aulander

AULANDER – From ground level, it appears a tornado caused damage in one section of this Bertie County town late Friday morning.

Meanwhile, National Weather Service (NWS) officials have yet to confirm if the storm cell that passed over Aulander shortly before 11 a.m. did contain a twister.

Bertie County Emergency Management Director Rickey Freeman told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald late Friday afternoon that he is still awaiting confirmation from the NWS in regards to the storm.

“If it was a tornado, by all indications here on the ground it appears it didn’t touch down,” Freeman said. “If it had touched down, the damage would have been much more severe.”

Freeman said the eyewitnesses in the area of Bell and Elm streets he spoke with told him they saw a funnel cloud and debris flying through the air.

The key story coming out of this storm was the fact that no one was injured.

“All we’re doing at this stage is assessing the damage and assisting in the clean-up,” Freeman said.

There was major damage to one home on Elm Street where a large limb from a pine tree fell into the roof of the residence. Freeman confirmed no one was at that residence at the time of the storm. He added he had spoken with the homeowner and they would be able to live with relatives for the time being.

Apparently, the storm cell spawned off the coastal storm that made landfall on Thursday near Wilmington. Freeman said he would be in contact with the North Carolina Emergency Management Office in Raleigh in an effort to request possible funds for the Aulander damage associated with that storm.

“I don’t feel there’s enough damage here to request a disaster declaration from the state, but we may can tie it into (a disaster declaration for) the coastal storm,” Freeman stated.

According to Aulander Auxiliary Police Officer Jimmy Barmer, there was damage to six residences, all singlewide mobile homes, on Bell Street and one “stick-built” residence on Elm Street.

Also on the scene were Bertie County officials G.T. Pittman (Building Inspector), Hosea Wilson (County Tax Assessor) and Bertie Sheriff Greg Atkins and several of his deputies.

Aulander Public Works official Thurman Morris, who also doubles as the town’s Emergency Management Director, was also on the scene as were members of the Aulander Town Council.

Apparently, the storm, after leaving the downtown area, impacted the Dunning Road area just across the line in Hertford County. Charles Jones, Hertford County Emergency Management Director, said the damage there was minimal, reporting four homes, two outbuildings and one tobacco barn were affected.

No injuries were reported on Dunning Road.

Jones said he would also check into the possibility of tying this weather event into the coastal storm in order to perhaps qualify for emergency assistance from the state.

There were unconfirmed reports of damage on Friday morning in the Republican community of Bertie County.

(R-C News-Herald Staff Writer Thadd White contributed to this story.)