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Storms rip through county corner

June 6, 2011

Shawn Lebo's two young children went outside their N.C. 16 home to "enjoy the breeze" that preceded thunderstorms into southeastern Catawba County on Sunday evening.

"We had a trampoline over there, and the next thing you know the wind picked the trampoline up," Lebo said, adding the sight sent his children running back inside. "I looked out and you couldn't see anything."

With dark clouds surrounding the Denver area home, Shawn said hail began to fall, and moments later an oak tree uprooted and fell on the house, crushing his two children's bedrooms on the north side of the house.

"There was a loud crack-bang," he said. "Both of their rooms are destroyed. I am thankful it happened when it did, because we were awake and inside the center of the house."

On Monday, the Lebos were among many who were cleaning up storm damage in southeastern Catawba County near the intersection of N.C. 16 and N.C. 150.

Catawba County Emergency Management coordinator Karyn Yaussy said two families in the N.C. 16 and N.C. 150 area were displaced from their homes after Sunday's storm, while numerous others suffered damage.

Yaussy said no injuries were reported from the storms, and the American Red Cross is assisting the families displaced by the storm.

National Weather Service issued storm warnings for the county starting about 4:40 p.m. and continuing until 6:30 p.m. Sunday
In the wake of the storms, employees at The Pit Stop auto repair shop and tire dealer at 6119 N.C. 16 in Denver arrived to work Monday to find five or six inches of water on the floor.

"Half of our roof blew an eighth-of-a-mile down the road," said shop manager Adam Scherr. "It was like an act of God."

Wind ripped a second roof off the top of the automotive shop, leaving behind an older flat roof, that leaked water and sent insulation onto the floor of the business. Meanwhile, pieces of the roof and an adjoining awning were spread between the shop and the parking lot Peoples Bank's Denver office, leaving boards buried in the banking office's roof. Sheets of tin from The Pit Stop's roof blew over the bank and into the parking lot of a nearby fast-food restaurant.

"It's nuts. We're trying to figure out what it was," Scherr said of the strong storm front, which produced images that "looked like a super cell."

National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Krentz said Sunday's storms produced 70-80 mph winds, adding it takes 50 mph winds to uproot a tree. Krentz said there was "no rotation" to the "straight-line winds" Sunday, but there was quarter-size hail in the area.

After severe weather passed Sunday, Scherr said he and family friends came to the business to try to patch holes in the roof. That's when he saw people out cleaning up after the storm damage — with ulterior motives.

"Low-life scavengers were out picking stuff up and taking it off to salem" he said. "I'm surprised there wasn't more looting."

For the Lebo family, they're just trying to figure out what to do next.

The American Red Cross helped provide lodging for the family Sunday night, but the future is more uncertain.

"There was a lot of crying last night," he said. "They are telling us we need to find another place to live, but I don't have any money to move anywhere. I don't know what we're going to do."

As of press time Monday, 475 residents in the N.C. 16 and N.C. 150 area were without power. Krentz said there is a possibility for more storms this weekend.

O-N-E Editor LaDonna Beeker contributed to this story.

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