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Three fatalities confirmed in Brunswick County tornado, multiple homes destroyed

Three people were killed overnight after a tornado in Brunswick County.
Three people were killed overnight after a tornado in Brunswick County.(Brunswick County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 5:39 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2021 at 12:57 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Three people were killed, ten injured, and multiple homes were damaged or destroyed when a tornado touched down in southern Brunswick County late Monday night.

Around 11:50 p.m., the tornado touched down in the area of Seaside Road and Highway 17, then crossed Highway 17 into a rural area, said Ed Conrow, director of Brunswick County Emergency Services.

“A community of residential homes was impacted, we had several homes that were destroyed, several that were severely damaged. Unfortunately, we had 10 injuries that we can report at this time and we had three confirmed fatalities at this time,” Conrow said.

The majority of the damage was in the Ocean Ridge Plantation subdivision, however, there was another neighborhood affected off Old Shallotte Road, he said.

“We have serious destruction in [the Ocean Ridge] neighborhood, we have homes that are knocked over. We have a lot of hard work to do as a community to get it back to normal, to get it safe for the residents to go back in. It is a very hazardous situation,” Conrow said.

By noon, the county’s emergency teams had completed sweeps throughout the communities, searching through homes and other structures in an attempt to find any additional victims. As of noon, Conrow said there were no reports of missing people following the tornado strike.

The county will now move its command center into Ocean Ridge and transition to a recovery phase where officials will begin preliminary damage assessments.

“This will definitely be a long-term event, the recovery in the Ocean Ridge and Old Shallotte areas will take a lot of hard work and effort to rebuild and get the families back to a normal state of life,” Conrow said.

The county will be working with the American Red Cross to set up a reception center to help affected residents with long-term sheltering and other emergency needs.

“Brunswick County has opened a temporary shelter for individuals displaced due to the incident. Individuals who need assistance and shelter can contact Emergency Services at 910.253.5383,” according to the county.

“Let me start off by offering my condolences to those that have lost their lives in this event, for those that are injured ... This is a very very tragic event for our community, for our county,” Brunswick County Commissioner Chairman Randy Thompson said.

Many residents have already been relocated due to the damage to their homes, he said, and neighbors are reaching out to help neighbors.

A survey team from the National Weather Service is in Brunswick County Tuesday to assess the damage and officially confirm the tornado.

Governor Roy Cooper released a statement on Twitter about the devastating tornado, saying he had spoken with Sheriff Ingram and Chairman Thompson and that the state is sending aid to Brunswick County.

“Our prayers are with them all,” Cooper said.

Josh Winslow, the chief executive officer of Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation, said the tornado initially knocked out power to about 37,000 residents and, as of noon, power had been restored to all but 3,000.

Brunswick County Schools announced that all district schools will be closed to students and staff on Tuesday due to the extensive damage and power outages associated with the severe weather.

A district spokesperson said they hope to have information later today about the status of classes on Wednesday.

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