Wind damage widespread across R-C area

Published 2:23 pm Thursday, January 8, 2009

A strong cold front, packing wind gusts in tropical storm force range, that blew through early Wednesday evening caused widespread damage across the Roanoke-Chowan area.

Electrical power remains out in some portions of the area; one being the Jernigan Swamp Apartments in Ahoskie. There, residents had the option to voluntarily evacuate to the Town of Ahoskie Band Room in order to seek warmth from their frigid apartments.

“Without electrical power, they had no heat in their apartments,” said Hertford County Emergency Management Director Charles Jones. “We worked out a plan with the Ahoskie Housing Authority and the Town of Ahoskie to move those residents to the Band Room on a voluntary basis.”

Jones said electrical power to the apartments was expected to be restored by 5 p.m. on Thursday. He added that as many as a thousand Hertford County residents were without power as a result of the wind-related storm.

“There are other isolated areas of power outages, most notably the Johnny Mitchell Road area near Ahoskie and the Harrellsville area,” Jones noted.

Due to the widespread outages, Jones said Dominion Power crews were “stretched thin” and that they had summoned manpower and equipment from other power companies to help restore electricity as quickly as possible.

Another widespread problem was the number of trees toppled by the strong winds that fell across roadways.

“We had trees down all over the county,” Jones said, “some bringing down power, telephone and cable lines with them.”

In two reported cases, motorists collided with fallen trees – one on the Mill Branch Road near Millennium while the other occurred on NC 45 south of Harrellsville. There were no major injuries reported from those mishaps.

“Hertford County owes a big thank-you to our fire departments,” Jones noted. “All of them – Ahoskie City, Ahoskie Rural, Como, Harrellsville, Millennium, Murfreesboro, St. John, Union and Winton – were out clearing the roads and protecting the safety of motorists until DOT crews could arrive. They did a bang-up job, as did DOT, the Sheriff’s Department, Highway Patrol and the power companies.”

Up in Gates County, Emergency Services Director Billy Winn reported pockets of wind-related damage. He said the majority of the damage was concentrated in the Corapeake area.

“Highway 32 was blocked for nearly an hour due to fallen trees and downed power lines,” Winn said. “There was also a tree that fell into a home there in the Corapeake community.”

In another mishap along NC 32, the driver of a tractor-trailer stopped his vehicle to clear the road of fallen limbs when a tree crashed into the trailer portion of his rig. Winn said the driver was not injured.

No major damage was reported in Northampton County, though some residents were in the dark for short period of time.

According to Northampton County Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Byers, residents in Lasker and Jackson were without power due to power lines being down.

Byers said the two communities were without power for approximately an hour.

In the Pendleton area, near the Northampton-Hertford County line, there was a report of a tree across the road, Byers said.

Byers said there was no major damage reported.

In Bertie County, damage from the high winds was scattered throughout, according to Emergency Management Coordinator Rickey Freeman.

“We had spotted damage throughout the county,” he said. “The majority of it is just trees and limbs down.”

Freeman said he had received reports the White Oak Road being impassable as well as a section of U.S. 13, Bethany Church Road and Wakelon Road.

“We have also had reports, though I haven’t seen them first hand yet, that there were several old barns that were blown down,” he said.

Freeman said while there had been some structural damage, the event left “no major damage overall.”

Power outages were reported in most every part of the county, Freeman said. He indicated that all had been restored as of Thursday afternoon.