Tornado touches down in Central NC; injury reported


AUTRYVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A curfew is in place in Autryville after at least one person was hurt and buildings were damaged when a tornado touched down in Sampson County about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

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A tornado warning had been issued just before 5 p.m. Tuesday for Sampson County. It expired at 6 p.m.

Late Tuesday night, weather officials said the tornado was an EF-1 with 105-110 mph winds, a path about 100 yards wide and damage in three areas.

Tuesday night, officials declared a state of emergency in Autryville with a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

One person was injured in on West Clinton Street in Autryville, officials told CBS North Carolina.

Michael Bartlett, the pastor at Autryville Baptist Church, saw the tornado pass through his town.

“I was coming out the back of the church heading to our house, and … you’ve kind of heard the typical, freight train, kind of thing coming, and I’m thinking, ‘Well, surely that couldn’t be.’ And all of a sudden I started hearing trees snapping and started seeing this cloud and black and white stuff and trees floating around. … Yeah, sure enough, it came through and hit Autryville.”

The fire department received damage from the twister, he said, as well as one mobile home that was hit “pretty hard.” A number of trees and power lines were knocked down in the region, he said.

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The Red Cross said Tuesday night that they were on the scene in Autryville and that those in need of assistance from the storm should call the Red Cross in Fayetteville at 910-867-8151.

Larry Bathke, who’s on the board of the Autryville Fire Department and arrived at the station soon after the tornado went through, said firefighters rode out the storm hiding under their firetrucks.

“I found out that all the firemen were safe that was in the building,” he said. “They got up underneath the firetrucks, they got safe, and when everything was over with, they come out and they realized what all had happened. … There was devastation. … We got two trucks that are down because the building’s fell on them. And We just praise God that everything’s OK, our firemen are alright. The building can be replaced.”

As the tornado moved through, the National Weather Service warned people to take cover.

“To repeat, a tornado is on the ground. TAKE COVER NOW! Move to a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If you are outdoors, in a mobile home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris,” the alert from the National Weather Service said.

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