Clean-up underway following eastern Carolina tornado - WSPA.com

Clean-up underway following eastern Carolina tornado

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PANTEGO, N.C. - The official report on the tornado that hit eastern North Carolina has been released by the National Weather Service.

Based on the preliminary information from the tornado damage survey, the NWS has rated the tornado an EF-2 based on the damage that occurred near Beech Ridge Road. The tornado's width, based on the damage swath, was estimated at 200 to 300 yards wide. Winds have been estimated to have reached 130 mph, based on the damage.  For perspective, an EF-2 tornado can have winds ranging from 111 mph to 135 mph.  The length of the tornado's track is still being determined. More details are forthcoming.
    
While the storm is over, the clean-up begins.
    
One of the areas at the center of the storm's path is in the Belhaven and Pantego areas off of Beech Ridge Road. It’s where the tornado is believed to have touched down.

Overnight, darkness masked the devastation, but there’s not much left of Mark Van Essendelft’s house. It was ripped from its foundation after it fell in the tornado’s path.

“I looked up and it looked like toilet paper flying off the tree," said Mark Van Essendelft. His pregnant wife and six kids took cover inside a bathtub.  But that's when he realized it wasn't safe. "I grabbed one of the twins ran outside and when I got on the porch, the debris was already flying off the barn," he recounted.

Mark's house was leveled. It was one of two completely, destroyed in the town. The American Red Cross says the tornado displaced 12 people and caused major damage to three other homes.

"It looks like it took it and picked it up and rolled it over like that," said Van Eseendelft.

"I'm 72 and I've never seen nothing like that," said James Coletrain.

The clean-up continues; neighbors and friend lending a hand in any possible way.

"The clothes had glass and sticks,” said Silvia Coletrain. “Several of the ladies in the community washed the clothes for the children."

It’s just the beginning of a long community effort to rebuild the town, experiencing so much in so little time.

Meanwhile, Levi Spencer says it's a miracle his brother-in-law and nephew survived with just some bruises. They live off of HWY 264.

"Anytime you see a man from the hospital walking away, walked and got into the rescue squad thanking god and crying,” said Spencer.

On Beech Ridge road just a mile away, Dempsy Ange stared right down the path of the tornado.

"It was a big dark black cloud up top and as it reached the ground, it changed to a little bit of a white color, but like I said, the most impressive thing was everything going up in the air and swirling around on the peripheral,” said Ange.

Looking at Ange's home, you may not think a miracle took place, but Ange says what's important is that no one in his family got hurt.

Read more about the storm here.
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