Storm Plays Rough
The noise from chain saws, street sweepers and leaf blowers replaced the wail of sirens heard throughout the night Friday.
Southern Pines appeared to take the brunt of the storm, Fire Chief Hampton Williams said.
"It looks like a bomb went off," Williams said late Friday night.
At least 3,500 people still lacked power in Moore County as of 10 p.m. Friday, said Andy Honeycutt, community relations manager for Progress Energy. Large sections of Southern Pines remained in the dark for hours.
"The impact to Moore County was pretty significant," Honeycutt said. "These types of storms generally cause widespread power outages."
The storm struck between 7:30 and 8 p.m., producing strong down-force winds, small hail and lightning. High winds knocked trees onto power lines and roads in several areas. Trees fell on several homes in West Southern Pines, Williams said.
A downed power line on U.S. 1 near the Lob-Steer Inn restaurant blocked traffic, forcing vehicles to detour onto May Street once crews had cleared several fallen trees and other debris from that road, Williams said.
It took power crews until about midnight to repair the line, Honeycutt said. A tree outside the company's right of way fell on the line, he said.
'A Lot of Cleanup'
"It was really scary -- spooky," Shirley Ward said as she surveyed the aftermath on South Ashe Street. "Tomorrow (Saturday), we'll have a lot of work to do to clean up."
Several large limbs fell in her back yard. But that was nothing compared to the destruction in the front yard of her next-door neighbors, who were not at home. Several large trees were blown down. Others were sheared off near the tops.
"I came out and saw the trees twisting and turning," Ward said. "A limb hit my skylight. My dog started shaking so hard. I knew it was bad. I headed for the basement."
Blake Smith, who lives across the street at the corner of South Ashe Street and East Massachu-setts Avenue, was on the porch of his house when the storm hit.
"You could see the wind coming," he said. "It reminded me of a hurricane coming. It was something. The wind was tremendous. It bent that whole row of trees (across the street). I thought they would all snap. I'm surprised any of them are still standing. It almost blew us off the porch. We watched the sky for a while, but we didn't see anything that looked like a tornado."
Williams said he was told by the National Weather Service that no tornadoes touched down but that one could have produced the high winds.
Ward and a friend, Donna McKenzie, who lives near May Street and Rhode Island Avenue, walked along South Ashe Street to see the damage. They were dismayed by the sight of a massive magnolia tree uprooted in the front yard of a house behind Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church.
"That tree had to have been 75 years old," said McKenzie, who is a native of Southern Pines. "This is unbelievable."
Ward and McKenzie stopped to talk with Mike and Trish Warren, who were out walking with their children, Michael, 13, and Rebecca, 11. They live on East Massachusetts Avenue.
"We're just out checking on our neighbors making sure everyone is OK," Mike Warren said. "We were pretty lucky. It was just a lot of wind damage."
Limbs Litter Roads
Tree limbs, pine straw and leaves littered roads and yards throughout town and elsewhere in the southern part of the county. Other sections of the county were sparred.
Honeycutt said Progress Energy crews worked through the night and into Saturday morning to restore power. He said the company tried to have power restored to most customers by midnight or early Saturday, though about 100 still had no electricity later in the morning.
Honeycutt said the company brought in outside crews to help with the work. Power was expected to be restored to all customers by 12:30 p.m., he said.
The Southern Pines Fire Department and town public works crews scrambled to clear fallen trees that blocked a number of roads after the storm passed. They were back out Saturday morning.
"It was pretty widespread," Williams said. "Just pick any section of town."
David Sinclair can be reached at 693-2462 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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