System downed tress, knocked out power

Howard and Beckie Baldree’s plan to remodel their house was going to require some demolition work, but not the kind nature did late Friday night.

High winds from an approaching storm front created what the National Weather Service called a “gustnado” that toppled a tree onto and inside of their home.

“It’s extensive,” Beckie Baldree said of the damage to the home at 102 Park Way in Ketner Heights. “It actually goes across all of the entire house. When you walk out on the porch, you can see the top of the tree.

“Inside, the right side of the home is pretty much completely destroyed. The first bedroom here on the right, the roof trusses are just lying on the ground and there are branches that poke through on the back side of the house, so it’s nasty. There’s branches through the living room, through the foyer and water.”

The storm caused other trees to come down in the area, some of which landed on power lines. Areas mainly in western Havelock lost power. Many in the Tucker Creek and Carolina Pines areas were without power until almost 6 p.m. on Saturday. Power outages affected more than 1,200 Duke Energy customers in the area, according to the power company.

As for the Baldrees’ home, the tree remained on the house Monday morning with a blue tarp over it.

“We decided it was best not to remove the tree. We were informed by a couple of people not to remove it until insurance could at least see it and just see how massive the tree is,” she said. “We were supposed to remodel this house. This is where we will end up living. Our contractor came over and he’s the one that put the tarp on it.”

The home, built in 1952, is cinderblock with a brick veneer so the tree didn’t actually slice through the home.

“The concrete took the brunt of the impact,” she said. “There’s some cracking from the actual impact, but the branches themselves came through the ceiling.”

Baldree said the home was unoccupied at the time of the storm, which struck around 10:30 p.m. Friday.

“It could be a lot worse,” she said. “I was just completely thrilled that my family was with me and our pets were OK. We were at Emerald Isle. We have six dogs that live in the yard and we even have a couple of billy goats. The tree that landed on the car landed a couple of feet from their pin, so I was just thankful nobody was hurt. This is just bricks and mortar. It doesn’t matter.”

There were trees all over the road in the storm’s aftermath, she said, some landing on cars. She said a neighbor’s truck was squashed and their own vintage black Chevrolet was struck.

“It was enough to squash the side of the car,” she said. “Thank goodness it wasn’t right on top. It might even be salvageable. Of course it couldn’t have taken out the trees that are dead. It had to take out the good trees.”

Robert Frederick, senior meteorologist at the Newport office of the National Weather Service, said a line of storms formed up in southern Virginia, moving throught the state and causing damage along the way. Damage was reported as far west as Boone and Charlotte, and closer in Greenville and New Bern. Fredrick said high winds caused the damage, not a tornado.

“ ... It was just an organized line of storms that moved quickly southeast across pretty much all of eastern North Carolina,” he said. “We got several reports all along that line on radar where we could see strong winds. There were some trees down. On radar, we saw no signs of rotation like we would see with a tornado. It was just a line of storm with strong winds along ahead of that line.

“You sometimes can get twisting. The gust front can produce some brief spinning rotation that’s really not a tornado. It’s just a swirling wind called a gustnado. We might have had some of that, but we didn’t see it on radar but you can’t rule that out. The damage is from straight line winds. It wouldn’t be any different damage wise because the winds were over 60 miles per hour. Most of the reports we got were between 55 and 65 miles per hour.”

Officials in Havelock said there was no other serious damage reported in Havelock. Cherry Point officials also reported no serious damage.

Frederick said a chance of scattered storms remains in the forecast through the rest of the week, though the severe weather threat is limited. High temperatures could climb into the middle 90s by the end of the week.

“The weekend will be pretty much a continuation of what we’re get through the week,” he said. “We’ll basically have a chance of thunderstorms both Saturday and Sunday and high temperatures around 90 to lower 90s, no real changes.”