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EF-2 tornado left a path of damage — but, amazingly, no injuries — across eastern Wake

Trees, buildings, homes damaged after eastern Wake tornado, but no injuries

A confirmed EF-2 tornado tore through parts of the Triangle on Monday, May 13, 2019, damaging buildings and some homes, and snapping trees according to the National Weather Service. Weathers Road in Wendell, NC was one of the areas hit.
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A confirmed EF-2 tornado tore through parts of the Triangle on Monday, May 13, 2019, damaging buildings and some homes, and snapping trees according to the National Weather Service. Weathers Road in Wendell, NC was one of the areas hit.

A tornado that skipped through Eastern Wake County on Monday like a rock across a still pond left many local residents with one question: How was no one hurt?

“The good Lord was looking after us,” Jim Griffin surmised as he stood outside his home on Weathers Road.

The tornado, a confirmed EF-2, first touched down near Rolesville Road and Tinks Place, according to the National Weather Service. In the tornado’s path, meteorologists found uprooted trees, damaged homes and destroyed farm buildings.

Griffin and everyone else in his family were away from home when the twister touched down. He was trying to take advantage of breaks in the weather to do a land-clearing job a few miles away when he got a call from a neighbor.

“You need to come. It’s bad,” his neighbor told him.

Griffin asked, “What’s bad?”

“A tornado just touched down,” the neighbor said. “Come home, and bring a dump truck, a chain saw and a piece of (heavy) equipment.”

Griffin did, and set about cutting his way down Weathers Road, which was blocked by downed pine trees, maples and oaks. He used the machinery to push the detritus out of the way.

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A tornado that touched down in parts of Wake County on Monday tore through wooded areas off of Weathers Road in Wendell, NC, pictured here on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Julia Wall jwall@newsobserver.com

As he made his way along, he could see some of the damage to his neighbors’ properties: trees down everywhere, lying across outbuildings, poking through windows, stretching across the ground. Outside one home, the wind had picked up a travel trailer and rolled it several times. Griffin would hear later that one side of the camper was peeled off and found more than a mile away.

When he finally got to his house, it was fine, completely unscathed. But a stand of at least eight old oaks was broken into toothpicks. His wife’s patio furniture was scattered around the yard and into the pond, and tree branches were dropped all over.

That’s the way it is with tornadoes; they can hit one house and leave the next one alone, even tear off the living room of a home and leave flowers in a glass vase on the kitchen table undisturbed.

Video captured Monday morning, May 13, 2019 shows a wall of severe weather. including heavy rain, large hail and high winds, approaching Raleigh and Garner, NC. Reports of wind and hail damage were reported across the area.

Griffin and his neighbors already were at work on the mess Tuesday morning, and chainsaws hummed along Weathers Road.

“We’ll never get it cleaned up in our lifetimes,” Griffin said he told his wife.

The storm traversed an area of about 10 miles, lifting off the ground at least once and touching back down, according to the National Weather Service, which surveyed the damaged until dark on Monday and went back out Tuesday morning. No injuries have been reported.

Griffin said the storm brought down at least six power poles near his home. Crews worked through the night replacing the poles and reconnecting lines, and the lights came back on around 6 a.m. Tuesday, he said.

A neighbor down the road was home when the tornado hit, resting in her bedroom from a recent medical procedure. She had the radio and the TV turned off, and wasn’t watching her phone, so she wasn’t aware of the tornado warnings that were issued.

She said her Siamese cat, Dinky was “worrying me to death” until she finally rose from the bed and started to walk toward the kitchen.

As she got to the bedroom door, she heard a crash. A tree limb came through the bedroom window and sent a shower of broken glass onto the bed where she had just been.

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Martha Quillin is a general assignment reporter at The News & Observer who writes about North Carolina culture, religion and social issues. She has held jobs throughout the newsroom since 1987.
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