Firefighters plug leaking roof

By: David Bradley and - Tomeka Sinclair - Staff writers

ALLENTON — While most Robeson County residents hunkered down as storms rumbled through on Sunday, bringing high winds and sideways rain, a county commissioner led a group of firefighters out into the mess to help a woman whose home’s roof had flown away.

The storm, which caused havoc in the Southeast but limited structural damage in Robeson County, came through Sunday, causing scattered power outages locally but few major problems.

But don’t tell that to 71-year-old Joyce Patterson, who was home alone when it got scary.

Allenton Volunteer Fire Department firefighters rushed to Patterson’s aid after Fire Chief Tom Taylor, who serves on the county Board of Commissioners, learned her mobile home had suffered damage and rain was coming into the home. Taylor, who had been at a funeral earlier in the day, helped cover the trailer roof with a tarp, and cleared away fiberglass and other debris from the yard.

“We cleared the yard out so that it wouldn’t affect another trailer,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this before, hitting one trailer in a group, and missing the rest. She was very lucky.”

“I didn’t know they did things like this,” said Patterson, who lives in a mobile home park on Beulah Church Road.

“We get calls for all kinds of things,” Taylor said. “Cats in trees, but the first time like this. There’s a big difference between a fire and something like this. Her neighbors were great. They made sure she was OK, and then helped get the roof off.”

Patterson was watching television Sunday to keep abreast of the storm’s progress, and didn’t worry when her home began to rock. Then it got noisy.

“But that’s usually what happens in a storm,” Patterson said. “I started hearing banging on both the front and back doors, at the same time. I went to the front and one of my neighbors was holding part of the roof off of the storm door so I could get out.

“I didn’t even know it had happened until after I heard the banging. I came out and saw the pink stuff everywhere from the fiberglass. It was just weird. Just totally, totally weird.”

The roof was torn from her home at about 1 p.m. Patterson’s neighbors called 911.

“She was lucky that she wasn’t hurt,” Taylor said. “You can replace a trailer, but not a person. The Lord really looked after her.”

“And so did the Allenton Fire Department,” Patterson said.

Utility companies had a busy night with thousands of residents losing power at different times.

Calls spiked between 9 and 9:30 p.m., said Lamar Brayboy, Lumberton director of Electric Utilities. Eighty to 100 scattered outages were reported in Lumberton, but almost all outages were handled as of Monday morning.

Most outages were caused by downed tree limbs and no major problems were reported, Brayboy said. Only one crew was sent out Sunday night.

Ten calls came in to the city’s Emergency Services office during the storm.

“I’m pretty sure there was a lot of tree limbs down but we didn’t get any calls about it,” said Bill French, Emergency Services director.

Duke Energy and Lumbee River Electric Membership Cooperation reported most of the power outages.

According to Duke Energy Spokesperson Merideth Archie, there were about 1,400 outages Sunday night. Only 29 outages remained as of late Monday morning.

“Calls began late afternoon, early evening around 5 p.m.,” Archie said.

Walter White Jr., vice president of Corporate Services, said 2,926 Lumber River EMC members had service interruptions in Robeson County because of the weather. The outages were scattered throughout the county, with most of the outages related to downed trees and tree limbs.

The N.C. Department of Transportation sent trucks out Monday, but there wasn’t anything too major, said Charles Miller, district engineer.

“We did get word of some trees down on a couple of roadways,” Miller said. “We sent out a few crews but not a whole lot.”

Police in St. Pauls responded to reports of trees being blown down and damaging cars on the east side of town on Great Marsh Church Road, said Police Chief Thomas Hagens.

Officials in Lumberton and the towns of Fairmont, Rowland, Red Springs, Pembroke and Rowland reported no major injuries or accidents.

David Bradley and

Tomeka Sinclair

Staff writers

Reach David Bradley at [email protected] or 910-739-2361. Tomeka Sinclair can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 910-416-5865.

Reach David Bradley at [email protected] or 910-739-2361. Tomeka Sinclair can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 910-416-5865.