06/15/06 — What the rains left

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What the rains left

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on June 15, 2006 1:53 PM

John Jeffers returned from work Wednesday afternoon and couldn't believe what he saw -- high winds from Wednesday afternoon's storm had knocked over his barn at 101 Country Lane southeast of Goldsboro and carried it about 7 feet.

About 40 yards away, at 101 Ellis Drive, Chris Stevenson was also returning home from work to find a big tree lying across his front yard.

The storm that crossed over Wayne County packed high winds in some areas, although damage was not widespread.

Stevenson's wife, Christy, was with their two sons, Christopher and Christian, at her mother's house across the street when the storm struck.

"We didn't hear anything. We just thought it was raining. We didn't think that (the wind) was that bad," Mrs. Stevenson said.

The wind also shattered the back window of Jeffers' Ford Escort that was parked in front of the barn. The wind was strong enough to move the vehicle about four feet.

"I had planned to work on it, but I guess I won't be doing that anymore," Jeffers said.

Shingles from the roof were ripped off by the winds and were carried about 150 yards. Along the way, the shingles flew into the sides of homes, a shed and Stevenson's tree. By the time the shingles and the wind had settled, it was left to the neighborhood, including Darlene and David Elam, to clean up the mess.

"I just can't believe it. It looks like a war zone out here," Darlene Elam said.

Wednesday's storms hit Wayne hard, but the county fared much better than the Raleigh area, which saw major flooding and the drowning death of an teenage boy.

Wayne County received about 1.5 inches of rain, according to weather spotters at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Raleigh got as much as eight inches, according to the National Weather Service.

In Goldsboro, several city streets were temporarily flooded. The city's general services director, Joe Sawyer, said several streets flooded but that no major problems were reported.

In Franklin County, a 13-year-old boy drowned when he chased a ball into a culvert during the downpour.

Molton Watson IV was playing with friends in a mobile home park on the outskirts of Louisburg, about 30 miles northeast of Raleigh, during the height of the storm shortly after noon, Franklin County Sheriff Jerry Jones said.

"A ball went into a little drainage ditch on one side of the street," Jones said. "When they went down to get the ball, the current pulled one of the boys ... through the drainpipe and under the street. His friend was right there with him, but he just couldn't grab him."

In Raleigh and surrounding areas, the remains of Tropical Storm Alberto unleashed heavy rain and wind, caused numerous traffic accidents -- most of them minor -- forced the closure of Crabtree Valley Mall, the evacuation of a small hotel and boat rescues at an apartment complex.

The last of the rain passed over the northern Outer Banks about 8 p.m., said meteorologist Kermit Keeter of the National Weather Service office in Raleigh.

Mall spokeswoman Sandra Geist said some employees and customers needed help getting to their cars after the mall closed at noon. She said the ground level of parking -- but no stores -- flooded. Television footage and traffic cameras showed parked vehicles in water to their roofs.

The National Weather Service in Raleigh recorded 7.6 inches of rain at its office, with reports of as much as 8 inches in spots along the storm's path through surrounding counties, forecaster Darin Figursky said.

Wake County authorities opened a shelter at a school in Raleigh to provide overnight housing to 20 residents of a hotel that was also flooded by Crabtree Creek, and anyone else affected by the storm.

In the afternoon, one waterspout landed near Morehead City and another crossed back and forth over Hatteras Island, but neither did any damage, National Weather Service officials said.