August 4, 2020 at 2:03 PM EDT
Two dead, several unaccounted for after tornado hits eastern North Carolina
At least two people were killed and several others remain unaccounted for after a tornado struck Bertie County, N.C., overnight.
The tornado, spawned by a rain band associated with Tropical Storm Isaias, touched down near Morning Road in the town of Windsor, striking the Cedar Landing mobile home park and killing at least two people, officials said. Twelve people were taken to hospitals with storm-related injuries, and 10 others were rescued and taken to local shelters.
“Our hearts are heavy as we continue to survey damage and get the big picture about what transpired, and just how many were impacted,” Bertie County Commission Chair Ron Wesson said in a news release.
At 1:10 a.m., the National Weather Service in Wakefield, Va., issued a tornado warning for Windsor.
“That storm went through just after 1 o’clock this morning,” said Mike Montefusco, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield. He said that airborne debris was evident on radar, indicating that a tornado had hit something.
“We did have some radar-confirmed evidence,” Montefusco said. “It did move through a trailer home community south of the community of Windsor. We are in the process of collecting information, and obviously throughout the rest of the week we’ll be conducting surveys.”
Bertie County authorities said emergency crews arrived at the scene before the storm passed, battling winds, rain, downed trees and darkness to answer calls for help. The area was still being searched as of Tuesday afternoon, with the number of damaged homes still unknown.
“We want to emphasize that this is not a recovery mission, and rescues are still taking place, which is why it is increasingly important to steer clear of the area,” said Mitch Cooper, the county’s emergency management director.
The tornadic thunderstorm was one of four tornado-warned areas of rotation lined up west to east that affected northeastern North Carolina shortly before 2 a.m.
Tornadoes produced by the storms may have been moving at up to 50 mph, making warnings and taking shelter difficult. At least a third of all tornado fatalities in the United States occur in mobile homes.
By Matthew Cappucci, Andrew Freedman and Brittany Shammas