NASH COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – The National Weather Services says a tornado that hit Nash County this afternoon packed winds up to 150 miles per hour.
A survey of the damage, which is still ongoing, said the storm was at least an EF-3 tornado.
The tornado hit the Dortches and Battleboro areas north of Rocky Mount bringing down trees and damaging homes and businesses. A tornado warning was issued at 12:31 p.m. for Nash County.
“I never want to see another one like it again, because It went from sunshine to pitch black, and this storm lasted probably less than a minute – and you can see what it’s done,” said Dortches Mayor Jackie Vick. “It’s devastation, but the main thing as far as we’ve heard so far, there’s not been any loss of life, some bumps and scrapes and that type thing, but no loss of life, so the rest of it we can deal with.”
Nash County EMS said that they treated a total of thirteen individuals with minor injuries and transported two of them to UNC Health Nash Hospital for treatment. Nash County Emergency Services said that an initial report after the storm gave an initial estimate of around 89 structures damaged by the tornado.
Officials said a more thorough assessment would take place once power crews have cleared the area of downed electrical lines.
“We want to thank our municipalities, Nash County volunteer fire departments, surrounding counties, North Carolina Highway Patrol, NCDOT, and North Carolina Emergency Management for their assistance during the emergency response,” said Emergency Services Director Tony Cameron. “It takes a big team to recover from an event like this. We are also fortunate that the number of injured individuals remained very low despite the amount of damage we are seeing.”
In Edgecombe County Raleigh NBC station WRAL reported that The Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office said there are reports of two people with life-threatening injuries and one person with non-life-threatening injuries related to the storm.
Nash County Public Schools announced that the Northern Nash Scholars will be out on Thursday and that any students at other NCPS summer programs who stayed home on Thursday due to weather impacts would receive excused absences.
“Northern Nash Summer Scholar Site will be closed tomorrow,” said Nash County Public Schools Public Information Officer Heather Finch. “Summer Scholar Sites Red Oak Elementary and Red Oak Middle School will remain open. If your child cannot make it to school tomorrow, it is completely understandable, and their absence will be excused.”
“For families who can safely bring their children to school, please note that the school will remain open. Our buses will be operable and we will let you know if anything changes,” Finch said
Interstate 95 was closed in both directions near Dortches, or just northeast of Rocky Mount after the tornado brought trees down across all of the highway’s lanes.
The interstate reopened shortly after 3:00 p.m. to all traffic.
The back end of the Pfizer plant on North Wesleyan Boulevard was heavily damaged by the storm. The company reported no serious injuries and said it was assessing the impact on production. Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said the Pfizer plant stores large quantities of medicine. He says he had reports of 50,000 pallets of medicine strewn across the facility and damaged through the rain and the wind.