EASTERN WAKE COUNTY — A half hour of severe weather toppled trees and knocked out power in much of the local area Thursday afternoon, striking Wendell and Zebulon hard, but largely sparing the Knightdale area.
As of Friday afternoon, Duke Energy Progress was reporting 83 outages with 1,793 customers affected in Zebulon and 94 outages affecting 1,650 customers in Wendell. At that time, Knightdale had just 27 outages affecting 150 customers.
Ryan Ellis, a meteorologist with the Raleigh forecast office of the National Weather Service, explained how Knightdale witnessed minimal effects compared to Wendell and Zebulon, towns where about a third of all residents lost power.
“The way the line went through, there were a lot of pockets of heavier wind,” Ellis said. “One place you could get 30 (mph) and right next door you could get up to 60.”
The winds were responsible for a large section of an oak tree that fell across Barbee Street Extension, just west of Moss Road, on the property owned by Larry and Mary Brown in Zebulon.
Allen Licud and Eustelio Gonzalez, who live across the street, said they were at home when the section collapsed between 6:30-6:45 p.m. but didn’t hear anything because the rain and wind was so loud.
“The wind and the noise was just awful,” Eustelio Gonzalez said. “You couldn’t hear anything.”
Licud said Zebulon firefighters were the first responders to the scene, where they taped off the road on both sides of the tree.
Another neighbor began cutting up some of the limbs that had fallen about 7:15 p.m. He was later relieved by a team from Zebulon Public Works that was called in at the request of the fire department due to the size of the tree in the road.
“We cut on it for 20 minutes or more and then used a backhoe to move the body and the trunk of the tree to the side of the road to make the roadway passable,” said public works Director Chris Ray.
Fire Chief Chris Perry said similar instances took place at several locations in Zebulon.
“But we didn’t have any reports of trees on houses,” Perry said. “What we had was more traffic hazards.”
Zebulon’s damage report mirrored that of Wendell, public works Director Alton Bryant said.
A sizable tree fell across West Academy Street near the intersection of Todd Street. There were also power lines down at the intersection of Green Willow Circle and Stratford Drive, and at the nearby intersection of North Pine and Nowell streets.
“Both of those were still down this morning and emergency officials blocked off those areas with cones,” Bryant said Friday.
There were no reports of trees down or other damages in Knightdale beyond power outages, according to town spokesman Brian Bowman.
While the wind and rain were audible, Eastern Wake EMS Director Garland Tant said his department’s phones remained silent during the storm.
“It came in pretty quick, but we didn’t have any (calls) related to the weather,” Tant said. “I’m glad.”
Most of the eastern Wake power outages were reported between the hours of 6-9 p.m. Thursday.