3 Dead, 10 Injured After Tornado Touches Down In Coastal North Carolina

Feb 16, 2021
Originally published on February 16, 2021 5:29 am

Updated at 6:15 a.m. ET

An early morning tornado ripped through coastal North Carolina Tuesday, killing three people, injuring 10 others, and causing damage to homes and leaving residents without power, according to emergency services personnel on scene.

The tornado touched down near Ocean Ridge Plantation, a beach community about 45 miles south of Wilmington, N.C., Edward Conrow, the emergency services director for Brunswick County, N.C. told NPR.

People were also reportedly trapped in their homes, according to the National Weather Service, citing county emergency services.

Conrow said search and rescue teams will work through the morning to locate any missing people or those who may be injured and stuck in their homes.

Search and rescue teams were temporarily pulled out of the Ocean Ridge community area after responders discovered propane leaks, Conrow said. A hazmat team has since been called in.

A tornado warning was issued around 11:45 p.m. Monday in western Brunswick County until 12:15 a.m.

The tornado left "significant damage" to several homes in the Ocean Ridge community, as well as homes and businesses in nearby rural areas, Conrow said. It's too early to confirm how many structures were destroyed or damaged, he said.

A reporter covering the damage overnight shared videos of serious destruction; downed trees and debris scattered across a road and homes totally destroyed by the tornado.

About 12,000 residents were without power as of 4:30 a.m. Tuesday in Brunswick County.

The Wilmington Fire Department tweeted that it was asked by state emergency services to help find other missing people after the tornado hit the area.

The Leland Fire Department posted on Facebook, "Our units are responding as mutual aid to Ocean Isle Beach to assist with rescue operations underway after the tornado. Please stay home and stay away from the area."

Conrow said search and rescue teams and other emergency responders have "a long road ahead" as recovery operations continue through Tuesday.

This is a developing story. Some facts reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene, and we will update as the situation develops.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.