CLAYTON, N.C. (WNCN) – On the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Fran, Clayton emergency responders recall how the storm devastated Central North Carolina.
Hurricane Fran slammed into the state Sept. 5, 1996 as a Category 3 storm. When it reached Central North Carolina, it had 80 mile per hour winds.
Following Fran’s pass over the state, there were days of power outages and thousands of trees down.
It was a storm some emergency responders say they weren’t ready for.
“Felt like it was going to miss us. It wasn’t going to hit us straight on, it took a path towards Raleigh,” said Stefan Fehr.
Stefan Fehr was on the front lines in the hours after Fran hit.
In 1996, he was chief of Emergency Management in Clayton.
He said it took hours for his team to drive around due to the number of fallen trees.
“It delayed people getting care for sure,” he said.
Some of the calls involved chainsaw-related injuries.
“It was scary for me because I was still brand new,” said Deidra Fehr.
Deidra Fehr was still in training as a paramedic when the storm hit.
She said being in the field was hectic but she left nursing to be closer to patients coming in for help.
“The trauma part was good for me cause that’s what I was good at,” she said.
Two decades later, Deidra and Stefan are married.
They worked for years in emergency response and responded to hundreds of calls.
but they will always remember how the community came together during Hurricane Fran.
“The biggest think I remember is how grateful people were,” Deidra Stefan said.
In total, Hurricane Fran killed 24 people. In North Carolina, the storm did $700 million in agricultural damage.
The name “Fran” was retired in 1997 from the hurricane name list.