Tornado confirmed in Aulander

Published 7:42 pm Monday, September 29, 2008

AULANDER – The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado caused damage in this western Bertie County town Friday.

According to Bertie County Emergency Management Coordinator Rickey Freeman, the NWS said the storm, which caused damage on Bell and Elm streets in Aulander, was confirmed as an EF-0 scale tornado, the lowest category of twisters. The winds for those storms range between 65- to 75-miles per hour.

“The National Weather Service confirmed that the activity in Aulander was a tornado,” Freeman said. “The winds in the Republican area were likely from a microburst or straight line winds.”

That confirmation backs-up a statement made Friday to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald by Scott Uzell, an employee at Golden Peanut Company in Aulander. Uzell, who stated he was standing outside under a shelter (located near Bell/Elm streets), said he saw debris “spinning in the air.”

“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.”

Uzell said the whole ordeal lasted less than two minutes.

While there was minor damage to homes in the Bell Street area, 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.

Apparently, the storm cell spawned off the coastal storm that made landfall on Thursday near Wilmington.

Late Monday afternoon, Freeman said he had received damage estimates from the storm. Those estimates, compiled by the Bertie County Tax Department, indicated there was $25,000 damage done to five mobile homes and two structures.

Freeman said Friday that he didn’t believe damage estimates would be enough for a disaster declaration, but indicated he would see if the tornado could be linked to a coastal storm that made landfall Thursday in Wilmington.

Apparently, the storm, after leaving the downtown area, impacted the Dunning Road community 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.

Damage estimates were not available for the damage on Dunning Road, but Jones said those figures could reach $50,000 because two out buildings were destroyed and some personal property was affected.