2 tornadoes confirmed in Robeson, but damage slight

Staff report

February 20, 2014

ST. PAULS — Two tornadoes touched down in Robeson County this afternoon, but the blows were glancing and damage was limited. There were no injuries.

The storm is also being blaming for damaging mobile homes and displacing five families across the county.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington confirmed that there were two separate tornadoes — one on N.C. 20 with winds of 85 mph and a second tornado on Elrod Road near Maxton with winds estimated to be 70 mph. The weather service also found microburst damage on Cross Bow Road with winds of 65 mph.

The Robeson County chapter of the American Red Cross is providing food, shelter, clothing and emergency assistance to about five families affected by the storm.

Lu Esposito, a Red Cross spokesman, said the families were living in mobile homes on Crossbow Road in St. Pauls and Elrod Road near Maxton..

“We will have a better idea what kind of help is needed once the National Weather Service does its assessment,” Esposito said.

In St. Pauls, a building on Clark Street reportedly lost a portion of its roof and debris blocked the road at the corner of South Third and Townsend streets.

The storm also toppled several trees, landing at least one on an unoccupied house.

Firefighters with St. Pauls and Big Marsh fire departments blocked off a portion of Broad Street because of low hanging power lines. Traffic was detoured for about 30 minutes.

But there were no injuries and only a handful of power outages in the St. Pauls area, Town Administrator J.R. Steigerwald said.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Steigerwald said. “We were lucky. No one was hurt and right now it is hard to tell that the storm has even come through here.”

There were also reports of multiple trees being knocked down southwest of Rennert, according to the National Weather Service.

Robeson County was placed under a tornado watch today from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. A watch means conditions could create a tornado. At noon, a tornado warning was issued until 1 p.m., meaning that a tornado had been spotted.

Residents in Red Springs, Parkton, Lumber Bridge and St. Pauls were advised to seek low-level shelter while the warning was in effect.

By 12:50 p.m., the storm had weakened and the weather service canceled the tornado warning.

Much of eastern North Carolina remained under a tornado watch through 4 p.m. today.

The storm was part of a vigorous storm that raced through the Cape Fear region, producing rain with high winds and lightning. But after about 90 minutes, the weather was gone and partly blue skies emerged.

Still Red Springs Town Manager James Bennett said there were no reported problems from the storm there.

“We were pretty much unscathed,” he said.

Saturday is expected to be cloudy with highs in the upper 60s. There is a 10 percent chance of rain.