Two people were killed after an early morning tornado spawned by Hurricane Isaias ripped through a cluster of mobile homes along a rural road near Windsor in Bertie County.
Rescue teams combed the area for survivors Tuesday morning.
Ron Wesson, chair of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners, said Tuesday morning that 20 people were taken to the hospital.
A statement on the county’s Facebook page posted around 6 a.m. asked for time to allow rescue crews to do their work:
“It is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge and confirm information that has been posted in several public Facebook postings about a tornado that touched down in the Morning Road area of Windsor earlier this morning. We are asking that our community allow us time to gather and properly verify more information from the various law enforcement agencies and first responders still working to secure the area.”
For several hours, additional people were missing, including some children, but reports Tuesday afternoon indicated they had been found and were safe.
There were dozens of warnings and several confirmed tornadoes generated by Isaias, which made landfall as a Category 1 at Ocean Isle Beach at 11:10 p.m. Monday and pushed northward along the Interstate 95 corridor.
Unlike a typical tropical system, a winterlike jet stream pattern created conditions more like a Nor’easter, allowing Isaias to maintained its punch over land.
As of 9 a.m., there were roughly 335,000 customers without power, and 40 secondary roads were closed in Eastern North Carolina. Secondary flooding from heavy rains could cause the infrastructure situation to worsen in coming days.
State Department of Transportation crews shutdown a section a section of U.S. 421 in Sampson County near Clinton after part of the roadbed collapsed. Storm surge debris also closed a major causeway over the Perquimans River in Hertford.
The center of Isaias, now a tropical storm, exited the state around 5:30 a.m., but the last surge of winds continued to do damage well into Tuesday morning, driving the waters of Albermarle and Pamlico sounds into Elizabeth City, Manteo and sound-side villages along the Outer Banks.
The National Weather Service also issued a storm surge warning Tuesday morning for Belhaven, Aurora and Washington.
The storm picked up speed as it crossed the state. The center reached Roanoke Rapids shortly after 5 a.m. and was at the Virginia-Maryland border by 9 a.m.
Damage reports throughout the night tracked the storm, starting with reports of several structure fires on Ocean Isle Beach just after landfall. Access to the island from the mainland remains limited.
Just up the coast, the heavy winds from the storm, clocked at 85 mph at landfall, left a jumble of boats at the Southport Marina. Farther north, it flooded out strand roads and chewed through dunes, but structural damage was limited.
Dare County reported “minimal damage” Tuesday morning, including several flooded roads and ocean overwash, but officials warned that storm surge remained a threat as waters continued to rise through the morning in Manteo and sound-side villages.
Upstream, the threat of flash flooding subsided, but river levels and the potential for flooding along the Tar and Neuse were elevated, with the National Weather Service advising a severe flood risk near the Piedmont and Coastal Plain boundary on those rivers.
Much of the Triangle and most of Eastern North Carolina received at least 3 inches of rain during the storm, water that will find its way into the river systems and flow toward the coast in the coming days.
Weather observation stations for the state Climate Office showed heavy rains in a belt from the southern coast north to Oxford, which logged the highest rainfall with 4.78 inches. A Climate Office station in Whiteville received 3.77 inches. Its Williamston station recorded 3.85 inches. These heavy rain totals come from a wide range of areas across the state’s eastern half.
Although there was significant rainfall along the I-95 corridor, the speed of the storm limited the potential for flooding, compared with the record-breaking flooding brought by slower-moving and weaker storms like 1999’s Hurricane Floyd or much larger storms like 2018’s Hurricane Florence.