Rain, wind wallop parts of Stanly

Sunday’s severe weather that brought doses of heavy rain and strong winds led to downed trees and property damage throughout Stanly County.

“The storm created havoc from the western to southern ends (of Stanly) to Albemarle,” said Brian Simpson, director of Stanly County Emergency Services. “Multiple trees down took out power lines and blocked roads. Several businesses in downtown Albemarle had storefront glass damage. We had several reports of trees on houses and metal roofs peeled back and damaged.”

Norwood appeared to bear the brunt of the harrowing storm’s wrath in Stanly. About 1,000 customers in the town were without electricity from 4 p.m. Sunday through late Monday afternoon after strong winds snapped three utility poles, Simpson said.

Several businesses were closed Monday due to no electricity. Norwood Elementary School was forced to cancel classes because of no electricity.

Damages to utility poles and power lines hindered prompt restoration of electricity, Simpson said.

“The storm that has blown through has created scattered outages across our system. Some areas have been hit a little harder than others it appears,” Randy Welch, a spokesman for Duke Energy, advised stakeholders on Sunday.

Large trees fell in Albemarle, too. Downtown sustained damages to buildings.

Much like in Stanly, there were scattered areas across the state where the storm was more severe. A suspected tornado claimed one life and caused extensive damages in Greensboro and Rockingham County.

National Weather Service meteorologists were visiting storm-damaged locations Monday to determine whether a tornado touched down there.

Gov. Roy Cooper and his staff spoke with local officials in Guilford and Rockingham counties Monday amid plans to survey storm damage.

“We are greatly saddened to learn of a death from these storms, but are grateful that so many of our residents came through it safely,” Cooper said Monday. “Today cleanup begins, and we all need to pull together to help these communities pick up the pieces.”

Severe thunderstorms moved across the state Sunday, bringing straight-line winds, large hail, locally heavy rainfall and reports of tornado damage. The Piedmont reported rainfall totals of two to five inches, which caused flash flooding in some areas. Strong winds downed trees and power lines in numerous areas with gusts of 40-70 mile per hour winds recorded in the foothills and western Piedmont.

Storms also left scattered damage in Mecklenburg, Iredell and Alamance counties, including downed trees and power lines. At 11:30 a.m. Monday, about 33,000 customers were without power statewide, down from about 85,000 on Sunday afternoon.

Running enthusiast Peter Asciutto was in downtown Albemarle helping West Stanly Medical Science Club with its Warrior Jace 5K fundraiser when the storm began to stir.

Asciutto said the race went ahead as planned at 3 p.m. because the weather forecast showed little chance of rain at that time, with organizers believing the event would be over before any severe weather hit.

There were about 15 walkers left on the course when Asciutto heard thunder in the distance. Most were within a half mile of finishing, so organizers scrambled to have walkers hustle to finish before finally driving out and picking up the remaining participants, Asciutto said.

“I looked up and just saw this wall of white coming at me,” Asciutto said. “You could see on the pavement where the dryness began and the wetness began.”

Asciutto said all he could think about was a scene from the film “Twister” flashing before his eyes, so he turned and ran toward a driver who picked him up.

“I saw the trees down, the power lines down, windows blown,” said Asciutto, who posted a video online shortly after the storm to encourage people to stay out of downtown. Broken glass and other debris littered the sidewalk as he posted a live video from outside his Vac & Dash business on South First Street.

Editor B.J. Drye contributed to this report.

Contact Ritchie Starnes at 704-754-5076 or ritchie.starnes@stanlynewspress.com.

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