Person County Emergency Management officials thought they had escaped a beating when Thursday’s heavy rains and tornado threats came and went without causing too much damage. But the second part of the storm’s 1-2 punch caught everyone by surprise.
“We were all geared up for Thursday’s rain. We had extra dispatchers on duty at the 911 center and, to be honest, it was pretty much a regular day,” Person County Emergency Services Director Doug Young said Friday. “It didn’t overwhelm us until this morning.”
In a one-hour period between 7 and 8 a.m. Friday, Young said dispatchers answered 13 calls of downed trees from locations all around the county. One man reported a tree had fallen across the hood of his vehicle Friday morning while he was stopped at a stop sign at the intersection of Durham and Weldon-Painter roads. The man wasn’t hurt, but Young said the reports of downed trees coincided with consistently high winds that blew through the county early Friday. Young said Friday afternoon that he had received three reports of houses damaged by fallen trees.
Predictions of high wind early on Friday prompted school officials to cancel classes Friday. The schools were released early on Thursday in anticipation of heavy rains and possible thunderstorms and tornadoes.
A tornado warning was issued shortly after noon on Thursday in the Hurdle Mills area, but there were no reports of a tornado. The heavy rains, Young said, came in such a way that flooding problems were minimized. “We got some frog-chokers for five or 10 minutes but then we would have 30 minutes with no rain and what water was on the road had a chance to move off,” Young said.
Scattered power outages were reported by Duke Energy in the wake of the storms. At noon on Friday, Duke Energy reported 726 Person County customers without power. Restoration crews worked to repair the outages, but they were hampered by the high winds which, at times, kept the workers from going up in their bucket trucks to make repairs.