Officials say more than 30 homes were damaged when a reported tornado touched down in Caldwell County.
Rescuers had to free several people trapped in their homes by fallen trees.
"It was like a slow rotation and then all of a sudden it just all came together at one time and it just really started going fast ... trees started falling," Resident Stevie Powell said.
The storm also knocked down trees and power lines and blew a steeple off a church.
Church members said they took shelter in the basement.
In Morganton, a firefighter was hit and killed by a car late Sunday night while he was helping clear storm debris, according to WSOC.
The Charlotte news station reports that two firefighters were clearing debris Highway 70 when a car struck 40-year-old Jason Hensley. He was killed on impact.
At least one injury was reported in Burke County.
Power crews are working to restore electricity to at least 12,000 customers.
North Carolina Emergency Management is still monitoring the storm's impact.
It all comes a day after Hurricane Nate brought a burst of flooding and power outages to the Gulf Coast.
Nate spared the region the kind of catastrophic damage left by a series of hurricanes that hit the southern U.S. and Caribbean in recent weeks.
Nate - the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Katrina in 2005 - quickly lost strength Sunday, with its winds diminishing to a tropical depression as it pushed northward into Alabama and Georgia with heavy rain. It was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi early Sunday, its second landfall after initially hitting southeastern Louisiana on Saturday evening.
The storm surge from the Mississippi Sound littered Biloxi's main beachfront highway with debris and flooded a casino's lobby and parking structure overnight.
By dawn, however, Nate's receding floodwaters didn't reveal any obvious signs of widespread damage in the city where Hurricane Katrina had leveled thousands of beachfront homes and businesses.
No storm-related deaths or injuries were immediately reported.
Nate knocked out power to more than 100,000 residents in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida, but crews worked on repairs and it appeared many of the outages had been restored within 24 hours.
As of Sunday evening, Alabama Power said it had electricity back to more than 64,000 customers and some 36,000 remained without power, while utilities and cooperatives in Mississippi said it had restored power to more than 21,000 customers who lost power during the storm. In Louisiana, there were scattered outages during the storm, while Florida utilities restored power to more than 37,000 customers.
Before Nate sped past Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula late Friday and entered the Gulf of Mexico, it drenched Central America with rains that left at least 22 people dead. But Nate didn't approach the intensity of Harvey, Irma and Maria - powerful storms that left behind massive destruction during 2017's exceptionally busy hurricane season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report