RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Gov. Cooper visited areas damaged by an EF-3 tornado that passed through Nash and Edgecombe counties Sunday afternoon.
His visit comes after the large tornado that traveled 16.5 miles and had a maximum width of 600 yards injured 16 people and caused extensive damage to homes and buildings.
According to the National Weather Service, the tornado was on the ground for about 33 minutes, which is longer than average tornadoes.
The governor spent the afternoon walking through the destruction left in the wake of that tornado - in several different sites. He was accompanied by the sheriffs of Nash and Edgecombe counties, the mayor of Dortches, and other local officials.
As a Nash County native, he said what he saw today was difficult to process
Cooper started his tour at a mobile home park in Rocky Mount, before moving to two areas in Dortches and finishing in Edgecombe County.
"I know the people here, and they have pulled together, they have done great things with a horrible, powerful storm that has come through and has disrupted the lives of many people," he said. "But I feel confident that this community is going to continue to pull together and make this work."
Cooper said he's been in constant communication with Pfizer, who said they will not close the facility and will continue to pay employees impacted by the damage to its warehouse. He said he'll have more information about state and federal aid that may be available to victims after damage assessments are completed.
Wednesday's storm was the first EF-3 tornado to hit central North Carolina since April 16, 2011. That's when 30 tornadoes hit the state, nine in central North Carolina and one registering EF-3 strength. The twisters killed 24 people and caused more than $328 million worth of damage.