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Possible tornado part of Friday’s storms

A sudden storm struck Pike County around 4 p.m. Friday, knocking down hundreds of trees, breaking power poles, closing 35 roads for a short time and leaving around a thousand residents without power. In Zebulon, quarter-sized hail beat down around the courthouse and as far north as Moody-Daniel Funeral Home, closing most businesses in the city limits early due to the electrical outage. South of Zebulon and Meansville was the area hit the hardest, and according to EMA director Jim Totten, the National Weather service said, ‘They cannot rule out a brief tornado around 3:55 p.m. in the area of Highway 109 and Sullivan Road. That was the only area in the county where the damage was consistent with the rotation of a tornado. The rest of the damage was consistent with straight line winds.’ The strong winds flattened many street signs, blew outdoor furniture and items around and damaged barns and other buildings. Right after the storm, commuters had a hard time getting to their homes as trees and power lines were across many high-travel areas, including Highways 18 and 109. Pike’s public works department and volunteer firefighters tackled the problem and opened many of the roads quickly. The traffic lights in Zebulon were not working so Zebulon Police Department chief Jonathan Hemphill directed traffic until power was restored. Power companies had to deal with seven broken poles in Pike County alone. Linemen worked through the night to restore power to homes. Southern Rivers Energy reported that 2,661 members were without power across their five counties of coverage. ’As summer weather brings more pop-up thunderstorms, the threat of tornadoes is also a concern so please make sure your cell phones and tablets are charged and you have downloaded some type of severe weather app that will send tornado alerts. Or, if you have a weather radio, make sure the batteries are new and keep some extras on hand.,’ said SRE’s director of marketing and member services Erin Cook.

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