By Tiffany Thompson, News Editor
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 —
Though Stanly County was not the hardest hit, many areas of North Carolina are still recovering from tornadoes that moved across the state Saturday.
Locally, tornadoes were reported to have touched down in Rowan and Union counties.
“We know there have been fatalities, but we cannot yet confirm definitive numbers,” said Doug Hoell, state director of Emergency Management.
At least 15 counties in the central and eastern part of the state have reported damage from tornadoes and severe winds.
In Stanly County, wind gusts reached a maximum speed of 36 mph though sustained wind totals were only reported at 24 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Early reports from counties hardest hit indicate dozens of homes have been destroyed and dozens more damaged.
Many communities have downed trees, power lines and a significant amount of debris in the roadways.
Power outages have been reported in Alamance, Bladen, Cumberland, Hoke, Rockingham, Rowan, Wake and Wilson counties, but there are likely more.
North Carolina’s electric cooperatives’ continue to make progress with restoration efforts in areas hit hardest by Saturday’s severe weather. Outages, which occurred as a result of high winds blowing down trees and power lines, are currently down to approximately 15,000 as of Monday. At Saturday’s peak, the electric cooperatives’ total outages neared 100,000, and Sunday the cooperatives collectively experienced about 32,000 outages.
The majority of the outages, including many of those that remain, were caused by issues with high-voltage transmission lines. Electric cooperative personnel are working closely with neighboring utilities to resolve these issues.
Electric cooperative line crews in the most affected areas, south central North Carolina, are relying on assistance from cooperative line crews from less affected areas of the state. These crews are working hard to make sure all of North Carolina’s electric cooperative members have power restored quickly.
In several areas of the state, urban search and rescue teams have been deployed to help find folks trapped in damaged buildings in Lee and Cumberland counties.
Governor Bev Perdue has already been in contact with President Barack Obama to request funding for emergency relief.
State representatives have expressed concern with the devastation. Congressman Larry Kissell (NC-08) toured parts of Cumberland County affected by this weekend's tornadoes and damaging weather system. While in Fayetteville on Sunday, Kissell was briefed by Mayor Tony Chavonne. They were joined by Governor Bev Purdue in visiting the damaged areas, including Ben Martin Elementary School, located in the Eighth District.
Kissell announced that he has assigned additional staff to the area to assist, joining staff members from his Fayetteville District Office in helping all constituents seeking assistance with any federal needs throughout the rebuilding process.
"The thoughts and prayers of my family are with all of those affected by this tragedy," said Kissell. "We must work together at the local, state, and federal levels to rebuild and repair this community.We will be here to help with absolutely anything we can. Federal assistance is on its way, and members of my staff will be here throughout to help residents with any assistance they may need in the aftermath of these events.”
U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) issued the following statement on the destruction caused by storms in North Carolina Saturday, saying "Brooke's and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of all those affected by the devastating storms that hit North Carolina yesterday. My staff and I stand committed to working with residents and local officials to ensure that federal assets are deployed quickly and efficiently to aid in the recovery of affected communities."