2 people dead after tornado touches down in Bertie County

Diane Wilson Image
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
2 dead after tornado pummels through Bertie County
2 dead after tornado pummels through Bertie County

BERTIE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- At least two people have died after a tornado touched down in Bertie County as Hurricane Isaias was passing through North Carolina overnight.

On Good Morning America on Tuesday morning, Gov. Roy Cooper said many people were injured after a tornado hit a mobile home park, and search and rescue crews were actively looking for missing people.

"Isaias hit North Carolina head on," Cooper said. "Sadly, we have two deaths attributed to the storm and our thoughts are with those impacted by the devastation. As clean up continues, don't forget the pandemic is still with is. So help your neighbor, but do it safely by wearing your mask, keeping your distance and bringing your hand sanitizer."

Gov. Cooper will tour the damage in Bertie County Wednesday morning.

County officials said they believed a tornado touched down in the Morning Road area of Windsor.

Home after home was destroyed after the reported tornado hit the mobile home park there.

A mother and her two children were found safe following a tornado in Bertie County. Two people died following the storm.

"I heard something sounding like the train and the wind was blowing and by the time we made it in the bathtub and I put my body over (her daughter's), that's when it hit," Tenisha Thomas said.

Thomas' home was destroyed. As was Nathaniel Swain's.

WATCH: How NWS will survey the damage to determine wind speeds, tornado strength

The National Weather Service will survey damage in Bertie County Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday.

"The bedroom is standing, but the rest of it is gone," Swain said.

Twenty shelters were open during the night and housed about 40 people. Isaias left more than 127,000 houses without power as of 3 pm. Utility crews have begun working and have restored nearly half of those homes and businesses with electricity. As many as 360,000 homes were without power earlier Tuesday.

Residents said that after the storm passed, they had to wait to be rescued as trees and debris blocked them from leaving their neighborhood.

"When it was over, I couldn't find a way out of my bathroom," Thomas said.

Search-and-rescue crews worked through the early morning hours and all day rescuing residents and getting them to safety.

"It's a blessing to have our life; that's all that matters," Thomas said.

WATCH: Bertie County mother recalls the moments she pulled her daughter into the bathtub to save their lives

A woman recalled the moments she pulled her daughter into the bathtub to shield her from the incoming tornado.


Tropical Storm Isaias exits North Carolina 7 hours after making landfall as Cat 1 hurricane (1 of 22)

Bertie County Commissioner Ronald Wesson told ABC11 that 20 people were injured.

A mother and two children were missing but the sheriff confirmed just after 2 p.m. that they were found safe; the mother was at work and the children were with their father.

A shelter has been established at Bertie County High School. Some residents are already there and the Red Cross is on-site to help.

PHOTOS: Hurricane Isaias leaves damage throughout the Carolinas

"All in all, this storm got in and got out pretty quickly," Cooper said. "And that's a good sign for potential flooding, which we hope will not be serious. So we're of course saddened by the one fatality that we know, at least that we have, but we know overall that this storm, moving quickly, that the damage was not anywhere as great as it could have been."

ABC11 meteorologist Don "Big Weather" Schwenneker noted Isaias was an exceptionally fast-moving storm and said it produced 16 tornado reports as of 10 a.m.

Isaias made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at Ocean Isle Beach in Brunswick County at 11:10 p.m. Monday. By 6 a.m. Tuesday, the storm had moved into Virginia.

"It's just scary, it's really scary," Swain said. "There's no house, there is nothing there."

As for Thomas, she is hoping to get back into her community to see whether she can salvage anything in the destruction.

It's hard," she said. "One day at a time."

Donations are being accepted for the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund and will address immediate needs such as tarps, food, water and cleaning supplies. The funds will be distributed to nonprofits working in North Carolina communities affected by Isaias.