Weather service releases details on tornado
Published: Friday, November 18, 2011 at 9:58 a.m.
The National Weather Service released its report on the tornado, saying it was an EF2 strength on the Fujita Tornado Rating Scale with estimated winds of 135 mph.
The report says the tornado was on the ground from 6:05 to 6:25 p.m. Its path was eight miles long with a width of 200 yards in central Davidson County. Two people, Janice Crotts Shaw, 50, and her 3-year-old granddaughter, Azlyn Shaw, were killed in their house on Meadow Run Lane. A relative confirmed their names Friday.
The Shaws had no renter's or life insurance, and a memorial fund has been set up at Bank of North Carolina. Donors can contribute to the Shaw Family Benefit Fund at any Bank of North Carolina branch or mail checks to the Lexington branch at 115 E. Center St., Lexington, NC 27292.
Smith said efforts to secure state money will happen next. State officials have to determine if the area received enough damage to warrant the money. Smith also added that disaster one teams have started cleaning up.
“We have a lot of recovery going on,” Smith said “We want to make sure people are safe and have a safe place to stay.”
He said officials spent Thursday and Friday in the field doing damage assessments by riding around to different parts of the county. Smith said during the assessments they did come across areas that had not been reported to the agency on Lake Shore Drive No. 6.
“We found areas (Friday) we didn't know exist,” he said. “It was a whole community no one reported. We're trying to get some of the stuff we missed.”
Sam Watford, chairman of the Davidson County Board of Commissioners, thanked all of the government agencies that have provided assistance the last few days. He said state emergency personnel came on the scene very quickly after the tornado touched down. He also commended the community for lending a hand during the clean-up process.
“All county personnel and first responders did a great job and are doing a great job,” he said. “When something like this affects our county, we have a lot of county departments involved. We're extremely proud of our people and how they're responding. It's always tragic when something like this happens. We have to do the best we can.”
Watford issued a state of emergency declaration late Thursday afternoon. County Manager Robert Hyatt and the commissioners held a conference call with the governor's staff Thursday afternoon to discuss how the state could assist with the cleanup and recovery.
Watford said the declaration was called to assist those affected by the tornado. The main purpose was to ensure Davidson County could receive monetary assistance from the state or federal level that might become available.
“The state of emergency is a pretty serious matter,” he said. “This gives us more access to those funds. We'll do all we can to help people.”
The weather service report lays out the events Wednesday that led to the tornado touching down.
At approximately 6:05 p.m., a supercell thunderstorm produced a tornado that touched down in central Davidson County, the report said. The first southwestern-most observed damage with initial tornado touchdown was in the form of snapped and uprooted trees along N.C. Highway 47 near the Parks Road intersection. The first occurrence of structural damage was to single-family homes in the nearby Silver Ridge subdivision off Allred Road. The roofs were lifted off multiple homes, and mostly exterior walls were blown out.
Eyewitness accounts suggest the tornado lasted between about 20 and 40 seconds, the report said. Only minor injuries were noted to residents, and most were aware the tornado was approaching via phone calls from relatives or television news coverage.
The tornado continued east northeastward to Old Burkhart Road where at approximately 6:10 p.m. it blew a mobile home up to a couple of hundred feet downwind, downed power lines and toppled a tree through a residence, the report said
The tornado then tracked through a small community on Meadow Run Lane shortly after 6:10 p.m., the report said. Two homes slid from their foundation, including the home where there were two confirmed fatalities. That home was wiped completely from the foundation and upon initial inspection would suggest higher maximum wind speeds and EF-scale rating.
The tornado traveled east northeastward and caused structural damage, mainly to roofing, of a Lowe's Distribution Center, Skippers Seafood Restaurant and Giddy-Kwik service station between 6:15 and 6:20 p.m. A nearby former marine dealer sustained heavier damage.
The next structural damage occurred at the Laurel Drive AAA Mobile Home Park at approximately 6:20 p.m. The most significant damage here was a tree toppled through the rear of one of the homes.
The tornado then crossed into western Randolph County at approximately 6:23 p.m., the report said.
Lisa Fowler, who lives in the Moss Brook development off Old Mountain Road, shared her story by email to The Dispatch.
She and her family were watching the weather on television when they realized the storm was strengthening and heading for them.
“We heard the train (sound) and hit the bathroom and within two minutes it had calmed,” she said. “The roof was stripped of most of the shingles, and water started pouring inside. Neighbors started coming from everywhere noticing we had most of the damage in the development.
“The garage almost exploded outward and buckled out, and beams fell in one garage. Damage in most every room from water. Our vinyl is off the side of garage, and the house is nonlivable.”
Her insurance agent, Mark Hudson, and neighbors helped the family secure their home during the rain.
“I can't tell you how much it meant to us to see the love from every side,” she said. “God had his hand on my family (Wednesday) night. We were all OK, just so very scared.”