Storm drops tree onto home

PEMBROKE — At least one home was severely damaged Monday by weather that blew through Robeson County.

Lightning struck a tree and toppled it onto a mobile home at 420 Granford Road. No one was injured.

“I was cooking, and we seen the wind and rain,” Shonda Jones said Tuesday. “I heard the first bolt of lighting strike. It sounded like a pop, or a boom, then a crash. I heard it hit something, and you know it took the tree down.”

The tree damaged the back and right side of the house. It destroyed the back porch and the air conditioning unit, and hit a couple of neighboring trees.

Another lighting strike took down a third tree, but it was not close enough to any structures to cause damage, she said.

A family member had called to alert them of a possible tornado in the area, Shonda said.

Winds of up to 60 mph in the county caused straight-line wind damage in Robeson County, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington. But no tornado could be seen on radar. Broken tree limbs were reported near Philadelphus and St. Anna roads, about a half mile from the Jones’ Pembroke residences in Pembroke.

No weather-related problems were reported Tuesday, said Stephanie Chavis, Robeson County’s Emergency Management director.

“There were trees down in Pembroke yesterday. I am surprised that more problems haven’t occurred because the ground is saturated,” Chavis said Tuesday. “I thought more trees and power lines would come down. But, haven’t seen anything.”

In the past 36 hours, Lumberton Municipal Airport has received 2 1/2 inches of rain, meteorologist Terry Lebo said. The area will stay in a shower pattern for the next week but should be drier Wednesday and into the weekend.

“This is a classic summer pattern, pretty much every day will have potential for rain. The current reason is because of a cold front from the north,” Lebo said. “It helped generate more widespread rain potentials. It won’t change any time soon, going through next week.”

There may be localized flooding because of slow-moving storms, he said.

The tree that fell on Jones’ mobile home was nearly 40 feet tall and had a diameter of nearly 5 feet, Shonda said. It had been hit by lightning twice before. The first time was more than 30 years ago when she was a child. The second was during Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Shonda’s 70-year-old mother, Dorine Jones, was with her daughter during the storm and didn’t hear or see anything until her son-in-law saw the fallen tree and alerted the family.

“I didn’t see a tree fall. I saw what looked like tornado wind,” Dorine said. “It was real strong, the wind was going around in circles. My daughter’s husband said, ‘The tree you’ve been trying to cut down, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.’”

The tree was vulnerable after the second lighting strike split the tree, they had attempted to get it cut down before but “no one would touch it,” Dorine said.

“I think they (arborists) weren’t sure where it would land, it is just so big,” Dorine said. “They didn’t want to take a chance.”

“It hurt my feelings, everything on the porch was tore up,” Dorine said. “The kids are sad about the tree. They would swing on the rope and play on that.

“When we cleared the land to get it ready for my mobile home, we left it alone. It was a good shade tree.”

That was more than 40 years ago, Shonda said. And for the youngest of four children, the tree will always have a place in her heart.

“That was my tree, that was my playhouse, my childhood,” Shonda said. “I knew it had been there for years. That is a living life, it goes back at least four generations. I want to see if it dates back to my original ancestors.”

The almost 15 acres of land along Granford Road has been in the family for more than 100 years.

The North Carolina Forestry Services will assist the Jones family in determining the age of the tree, a skill she wants to learn, Shonda said.

“I looked it up last night and we want to preserve what’s left of it,” Shonda said. “I think that it will grow and continue to grow. I want to keep it forever. It’s family.”

Shonda Jones Jones
Dorine Jones Jones
Dorine Jones, right, and her daughter Shonda check out Tuesday the nearly 40-foot-tall tree that hit their home on Granford Road in Pembroke on Monday. The tree was dropped by lightning during a strong thunderstorm. Jones, right, and her daughter Shonda check out Tuesday the nearly 40-foot-tall tree that hit their home on Granford Road in Pembroke on Monday. The tree was dropped by lightning during a strong thunderstorm.

By Annick Joseph

Staff writer

Reach Annick Joseph by calling 910-416-5165 or via email at or Facebook Annick MultiMedia Journalist.