04/18/11 — Wayne dodges worst of Saturday storm

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Wayne dodges worst of Saturday storm

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 18, 2011 1:46 PM

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Photo submitted by Dale Davis

This photo shows the damage done to an Andy's restaurant in Greene County by Saturday's storms. More than 40 homes in the county were destroyed and many more severely damaged. Greene County Middle School also was destroyed and Greene Central High School was damaged.

Wayne and Duplin counties appear to have escaped the worst of Saturday's tornado-producing storms, with only minor damages and no injuries reported. However, Greene County suffered major damage to a number of buildings and 10 people were taken to the hospital for injuries caused by the storm.

At least one person was listed in critical condition, Greene County EMS Director Randy Skinner said this morning. He said he did not have any additional information on the injuries. There were a number of others suffering from bumps, cuts, scratches and bruises, he said.

"I have not heard of any fatalities, thank God," Skinner said.

The damage followed a track from the south-central to the north-central part of the county, taking it through the county seat of Snow Hill, he said.

Skinner said that the National Weather Service reported that the storm was an EF-3 (wind speeds from 136 to 161 miles per hour). He said he did not know how long the tornado was on the ground, but that it appeared to him to be at least a quarter-mile wide.

Countywide, 46 homes were destroyed, another 27 received major damage and 40 had minor damages.

Five business, including an Andy's restaurant and the Gin Gin restaurant were destroyed. Five more were damaged, Skinner said. Some of the injured were inside Andy's when the storm struck, he said.

Greene County Middle School was destroyed and the roof on the Greene Central High School gym was rolled back, Skinner said. Other sections of the school roof were damaged as well, he said.

A damage assessment was not immediately available. Skinner said that state emergency services officials and officials with the county tax office would be out today assessing the damage.

It also will be later today before more specific information is available for Wayne County, meteorologists with the National Weather Service offices in Raleigh and Morehead City said.

An EF-0 tornado with winds in the range of 65-85 miles per hour was confirmed to have touched down in Duplin County, about six miles south of Kenansville around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, said Jeremy Schulz of the National Weather Service office in Morehead City.

Duplin County Emergency Medical Services Director Reid Southerland said a second small tornado was reported near Faison. There were no reports of injuries or damages in the county other than some downed trees and power lines, he said.

A section of northern Duplin County was without power for a while Saturday afternoon, but it was quickly restored, Southerland said.

There were no reported injuries in Wayne County, but a large barn was reported destroyed on a turkey farm at Saulston and a roof was blown off a house on Country Day Road, said Katie Roussy, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

In Mount Olive, Fire Chief Steve Martin said he was near the U.S. 117 Bypass bridge over N.C. 55 when he saw a tornado pass overhead, but he said he never saw it touch down.

National Weather Service damage assessment teams were expected to be in Wayne County today to look over damages.

Ms. Roussy said two tornadoes had been reported in the county. However, the actual number, their wind speeds and track and damages won't be known until the assessment team can survey the area, she said.