Updated: Damage Assessment Begins After Deadly Sunday Tornado
At least one person died and thousands are still without power after a tornado ripped through Greensboro Sunday evening.
The National Weather Service determined the storm to be a "high-end EF-2," with maximum possible wind speeds of 135 miles per hour. Once it touched down, it cut a path about 300 meters wide.
Superintendent Sharon Contreras said Hampton, Peeler and Erwin elementary schools sustained the most damage, and there are other schools that need to be assessed. All Guilford County schools are closed Monday.
WFDD's David Ford spoke with Assistant Greensboro Fire Chief Dwayne Church early Monday morning to get the latest on damage, safety tips and what comes next.
On where the worst of Sunday's storm hit:
Well yesterday, right [around] 5:00 p.m., we had a confirmed tornado touch down on the east side and northeast side of Greensboro. And from what we can tell from the damage it looks like it started just east of [U.S. 29 and I-85], it touched down there, and most of the damage was from Willow Road on the south end all the way up to the Old Town Road right there at White Street, close to Phillips Avenue.
On what residents need to do now to stay safe:
One thing right now is we still have a lot of power outages...mostly around the eastern/northeastern part of the city. What we would tell people is "if you see any power lines, stay away and treat all power lines that are down on the ground as if they are alive and they're active."
That would be the biggest concern for us right now is people trying to come in and get in the debris. Some of these houses are unstable and we don't want anyone trying to get in and sift through debris without us doing it first and checking on the stability of the structures.
On what happens next:
Our first priority [Sunday] was really to check on the residents, and we stayed up until about 3:00 a.m. last night, units out, going house to house, and checking on the safety of our residents. We weren't really able to do much of a damage assessment because of the light.
Now that it's daylight, today our priority will be doing those damage assessments and looking for any dangers. We'll have some building inspectors going along with us, and we'll be condemning structures as we go along, and just trying to keep the residents safe. If a structure needs to be condemned we'll want to keep those residents out of those structures just to protect them.
(Ed.: This transcription has been lightly edited for clarity. The story has also been updated with a storm classification from the National Weather Service in Raleigh.)