WEATHER SERVICE: EF2 Tornado Hits Beaufort & Hyde Counties

The National Weather Service says an EF2 tornado struck Beaufort and Hyde counties Monday afternoon.

They estimate the winds were between 111 and 135 miles per hour.

Eight homes were damaged, and five people were injured by the twister that touched down around 3:45 p.m. Beech Ridge Road was one of the hardest hit areas. Two barns were destroyed, one home was moved off its foundation, and another destroyed.

Insurance adjusters were on hand assessing the damage, while crews worked nearby to remove downed trees.

One family heard the storm approaching and first ran toward the bathtub, but the father told his family to make a run for the ditch next to their home.

"Me and my children made it to the ditch in time," said Marc Van Essendelft. "My wife was probably 20 feet away so from the ditch. The cedar tree rolled over top my wife and 4 year old, but we just thank the lord we're okay."

Van Essendelft’s wife is nine months pregnant and is due Sunday. She and their soon-to-be-born baby are okay. Only the foundation of their home remains.

Authorities are asking if you don't live on Beech Ridge Road to stay clear of the area so crews can safely work.

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Victims and their families are providing more details about a tornado that sped through Beaufort and Hyde Counties Monday afternoon.

Some of the worst damage was in the Belhaven area with homes destroyed and a pickup truck with two people inside, thrown through the air.

Walking along Beech Ridge Road and Highway 264, debris was everywhere, trees were down, and homes had been blown to pieces.

Dempsey Ange says, "On the ground it covered about 250 yards, but if you looked up in the sky higher, it may have been a quarter of a mile across, and it was just as high as you could see."

Fortunately, no one on Beech Ridge Road was seriously injured.

Over on highway 264, Levi Spencer says his brother in-law Thomas Selby, and nephew Antwan are lucky to be alive.

They were in a pickup truck, which was thrown from the road, over power lines, and landed in a field.

They were taken to the hospital, but only have minor injuries. Thomas Selby has been released from the hospital while Antwan is staying overnight.

Beaufort County Emergency Services says eight homes in the area of Pantego and Beech Ridge Road sustained damage ranging from significant to total loss.

They also say it has been confirmed that less than five people were transported to the hospital due to injury and there was no loss of life.


At least 13 people have been injured after a tornado tore through two Eastern Carolina counties.

Damage has been reported in Beaufort and Hyde counties. The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado touched down.

Beaufort County Emergency Management Director John Pack says a majority of Belhaven had been without power, with trees and power lines down. Power has since been restored.

Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal says a pickup truck was lifted over power lines by the winds on U.S. 264. It ended up in a field. A man and his son were in the truck and both were taken to Vidant Pungo, and later to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

A home across the highway was destroyed. Family members say an older woman lived there with her grandson. She was inside at the time and jumped out the window "because she had to", according to the relative. The woman was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

The mayor says at least 13 people were at the emergency room at Vidant Pungo. He says the extent of their injuries are not known yet, but they include a pregnant woman and a young boy.

O'Neal says the tornado touched down on Beech Ridge Road and several homes on that road are damaged.

Trees are also down on Highway 99 near Pungo, and in Ponzer.

In Hyde County, fire chief Johnny Stotesberry says one house was lifted off its foundation on Highway 45, about 5 miles off U.S. 264. He also says power is off in parts of western Hyde County.

Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties were under tornado warnings that expired shortly after 5:00 p.m.

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A Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issued for Beaufort, Hyde and Washington counties in the East until 4:15 PM. An area of heavy localized downpours is moving northeast. Strong winds and hail have been reported with this system.

Stay tuned to WITN for further storm coverage