Weather

'Glad to be alive,' residents say after Wendell, Zebulon hit by EF-2 tornado

WENDELL, N.C. (WNCN) - The National Weather Service confirms a tornado touched down in Eastern Wake County Monday. 

UPDATE: EF-2 tornado causes heavy damage in Wendell, Zebulon; NWS to complete survey today

Weather service meteorologists say an EF-2 tornado was confirmed near Wendell to Zebulon. The start location was just west of Rolesville Road near Tink's Place. The tornado, with wind speeds between 111 to 135 mph, ended east of Zebulon. The path width and length has yet to be determined, meteorologists report.

"I'm just glad to be alive. Thank the Lord. Praised the Lord," said Jimmy Parker.

The tornado tore through Parker's property on Weathers Road in Wendell. While Parker's home wasn't damaged, he said several farm buildings were leveled beyond repair.

"I peeked out the window and here comes a piece of irrigation pipe flying across the backyard and landing," he said.

National Weather Service officials from Raleigh spent time on Parker's property surveying the damage to buildings and trees to determine how strong the tornado was.

"Are windows broken? Is there a loss of roofing or shingle material? Is the door broken? Stuff like that," said lead meteorologist Brian Haines.

Haines confirmed the tornado touched down in Wendell.

Town officials said the twister first touched down off of Davistown Road, before traveling seven or eight miles near N.C. 97, then through the heart of Zebulon.

"In just a matter of seconds, the crash came down, which I'm assuming was this tree.  The whole house shook. I didn't have time to get scared, because it happened so quick," said Lee Adams of Zebulon.

The Zebulon Police Department Monday afternoon urged people to avoid the area if possible because of traffic lights out and trees down on houses and in streets.

"I'm just glad no one got hurt. It's a little bit devastating, but nobody got hurt," said Adams.

During a 4 p.m. press conference, officials said emergency crews responded to at least 60 calls within the first hour of the storms.

No injuries have been reported. 

There were also reports of trees fallen on houses and down in streets in Wendell. One farm in the town suffered serious damage with at least one structure collapsing. Multiple trees were knocked down at the farm and some trees had the tops completely sheared off from the wind.

Parker said he was grateful neither he nor his neighbor were hurt.

He wanted to remind people to pay attention to severe weather alerts, saying he only had about 15 seconds to get to safety.

"When they hear that tornado alert, they need to be headed for cover. Because it can be on you that quick. I got them a lot of times before, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that one would be on me that quick."

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