LUMBERTON — Thunderstorms dumped as much as 4 inches of rain in Robeson County on Monday, downing trees, knocking out power for 2,400 utility customers and contributing to a fatal traffic accident.
Reid Hawkins, science officer at the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said some of the heaviest rainfall was in the southern third of the county with 2.5 to 4 inches of rain. The rest of the county received anywhere from a half inch to 1.5 inches. One Fairmont resident said on Facebook her home received 6 inches.
Damage from the storm was scattered throughout the county.
“We had trees down on power lines. We had about 2,400 customers throughout the county who were out of power due to downed lines,” said Robeson County Emergency Manager Stephanie Chavis.
Chavis said a barn on Tobacco Road between Fairmont and Orrum may have been struck by lightning and caught fire Monday afternoon. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze and no resulting injuries were reported, she said.
Chavis also reported multiple trees down off of Iona Street in Fairmont and a tree down on a house on Florence Court in Lumberton. That house was severely damaged, but no injuries were reported. Multiple trees were also downed around Graham Street in Maxton.
Duke Energy and Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation reported no outages as of this morning. In Lumberton, about 700 residents lost power due a to tree limb that had fallen across a primary line, according to Greg Prevatte, assistant director of the city’s Electric Utilities Department. Prevatte said the outages were “cleared up pretty quickly.”
The storm caused lights to flicker several times at Lumberton City Hall, where a council meeting was being held.
The stormy weather also contributed to a wreck near Red Springs that killed a Maxton man Monday afternoon, according to the Highway Patrol.
According to a report by Trooper B.L. Bullard, Paul Rutherford was killed when his Honda Accord went under a jack-knifed tractor-trailer and became pinned. Rutherford, 29, had lived on Modest Road in Maxton.
The driver of the commercial vehicle, Laura Kimmerly of Raleigh, has been charged with exceeding safe speed due to rain, driving left of center and misdemeanor death by vehicle, Bullard said.
According to Bullard, Kimmerly was driving east on N.C. 71 near Redveil Road at about 4:30 p.m. when the truck ran off to the road and jack-knifed, putting its trailer in the path of Rutherford’s Honda. Kimmerly was driving about 55 mph in the 55-mph zone, but the speed was unsafe because of heavy rain, Bullard said.
Rutherford was pronounced dead at the scene. According to Bullard, the road was closed for about four hours as the scene was investigated and cleared.
Chavis said while thunderstorms in the forecast for the rest of the week are seasonal, her department will continue to monitor conditions.
The forecast for the week calls for scattered and isolated thunderstorms through Thursday with chances of thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday. Temperatures are set to be in the mid- to upper-90s with lows in the 70s.
Juanita Lagrone can be reached at 910-416-5865 and Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974.