At least three people are dead after a tornado tore through the southern part of North Carolina late Monday, the Brunswick County sheriff said in an early-morning news conference.

Sheriff John W. Ingram said early Tuesday that 10 people were also injured in a storm that featured “a lot of destruction” along Highway 17 between the North Carolina coastal communities of Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach. The devastation has left many buildings destroyed and residents trapped in their homes, authorities said, though the full severity of the damage remains unclear. Trees and power lines were also reported down throughout the area.

“This is something unlike I’ve ever seen,” Ingram said to reporters. “It’s going to be a long recovery process.”

Ed Conrow, the emergency services director for Brunswick County, said in a news conference there are currently no missing people and that emergency responders will assess the area after securing gas leaks on Tuesday morning.

“That search is probably going to take several hours this morning and I expect to go into the afternoon tomorrow,” Conrow said.

Conrow added that most of the damage, as well as all of the injuries and fatalities, unfolded in Ocean Ridge Plantation, an “exclusive and luxurious golf and beach community.” Some of the homes in the community were ripped from their foundations, according to WWAY.

A tornado warning was issued shortly before midnight Tuesday in Brunswick County, which has a population of about 140,000 people. At midnight, a tornado was spotted in Honey Island, N.C., WWAY reported, close to 45 miles west of Wilmington. Shortly thereafter, the National Weather Service reported structural damage and power lines down along Highway 17 in Brunswick County.

“Avoid the area,” the agency tweeted.

The Wilmington Fire Department said that NC Emergency Management had deployed regional response teams to help with the recovery and search-and-rescue efforts.

Brunswick Electric Membership Corp., the county’s public utility, reported thousands of people without electricity as of early Tuesday.

Ingram asked anyone who isn’t a property owner or directly assisting those affected by the tornado to avoid the area as emergency responders work to clear the streets.

“This is a very, very tragic event for our community and our county,” Brunswick County Commissioner Randy Thompson said.