01/15/06 — Turkey houses destroyed in storm

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Turkey houses destroyed in storm

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 15, 2006 2:09 AM

Three turkey houses and several buildings in western Greene County were destroyed after strong winds ripped through the area in the early morning hours on Saturday.

Three of six turkey houses on Jimmy Herring's farm near Shine's Crossroads were destroyed, with damage estimated at $400,000.

Holly Silva, Herring's daughter, said they were just three days away from selling the turkeys. The farm is under contract to Goldsboro Milling Company.

"It's hard to tell the death toll," she said. "We're trying to relocate some to another farm for a few days."

Husband Orlando Silva, who manages his father-in-law's farm, said there were 21,000 turkeys in the three houses. The structures, built in 1985, were destroyed, he said, but most of the turkeys survived.

"I'd say 95 percent of the turkeys are fine," he said.

Mrs. Silva said from talking with other farmers in the community, she believed the storm blew through around 1:30 a.m. She said she and her husband were awakened during the night and realized the power was out.

"But at that point, we had no idea what had happened," she said. When the sun came up, they evaluated the farm and damage.

A crew from Goldsboro Milling was called to assist, she said.

"It's a huge clean-up," Silva said Saturday.

Meanwhile, in another part of Greene County, Randy Skinner, emergency management director, said extensive wind damage wreaked havoc on the Rainbow Community off of U.S. 58. He said officials were trying to ascertain whether a tornado blew through and caused more than 350 people to be without power on Saturday.

Skinner said at least 16 homes were affected by the storm, some extensively. He said the most damage was done to mobile homes, with two believed to have been totaled, while residences in the area received damage to vinyl siding and had shingles blow off.

There was also a report that a barn and a garage were destroyed in the area.

Damage from tornadoes and high winds was reported in other areas of North Carolina.

A handful of homes were declared uninhabitable after a fast-moving storm system sent an unseasonable tornado whipping through a Gastonia neighborhood.

The storm also unleashed gusts that cut power Saturday to more than 17,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina.

Several witnesses reported seeing a funnel cloud Friday evening before the storm crashed into a housing subdivision under construction, Gastonia fire department division chief Kerr Foy said Saturday.

Rodney Hinson, a National Weather Service meteorologist in the Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., said a team visited the site Saturday and determined that a tornado had struck.

The winds followed a path about two houses wide through the neighborhood, ripping the roof off an unoccupied house and driving a truss section of the roof into another home like an arrow, Foy said.

Other flying construction materials shattered windows in cars parked outdoors, and one car was turned onto its side by the wind, Foy said.

No one was hurt by the storm that lashed into Barkers Ridge Drive around 8 p.m. Friday, Foy said.

"It's pretty amazing," he said.

Local housing inspectors deemed at least five houses suffered structural damage that made them unsafe for habitation, including four homes that were occupied, Foy said. About a dozen homes suffered significant damage, he said.

Hinson said the type of damage and the pattern of destruction -- a narrow swath about half a mile long -- showed the hallmarks of a tornado, even though no funnel cloud was detected by weather service devices.

"These storms were not your typical tornado-producing storms," he said. "That's kind of what happens this time of year. They're very small storms and they're moving very fast, and it's hard to get any kind of signature on radar."

Residents said they never had any doubt.

"I definitely feel like it was a tornado. The neighbors say they saw it coming but they couldn't alert anyone," said Annette Davis, who lives in the damaged neighborhood.

The high winds that churned across North Carolina's Piedmont Friday night continued Saturday morning in the mountains, where more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Black Mountain lost power, Progress Energy spokeswoman Heidi Daja said.

Duke Power Co., which serves about two million customers in western and central North Carolina and South Carolina, reported more than 27,000 customer without power across both states Saturday afternoon, spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said.

"There are scattered outages in every county that we serve," she said.

The bulk were in North Carolina's Henderson County, where continuing wind gusts left 10,700 mountain residents and businesses without power Saturday, Sheehan said. Heavy winds also caused 3,300 outages in Mecklenburg County, 1,200 in Davie and 1,100 in Polk.

The storm system was associated with a cold front that moved across parts of the South and East. Eleven people were injured and at least nine mobile homes were destroyed in South Carolina. A woman in Alabama was killed in her home by a chimney collapse and 13 children were injured at a school in the Florida Panhandle when winds tore off a section of roof.

Information from the Associated Press is included in this story.