Saturday, July 21News That Matters

'I literally thought we were going to die,' NC woman films close call with likely tornado


A quick video of a Greensboro family’s dangerous brush with a suspected tornado Sunday is racking up tens of thousands of views on Facebook.

Stephanie Hopkins says her husband, Shawn, was the first to point out the smoky-looking clouds as the couple drove on U.S. 29 near Gate City Boulevard. Hopkins said her three children, ages 2, 6, and 7, at first thought they were witnessing a “cool” but harmless storm cloud.

It wasn’t until they came parallel to the mass of swirling debris that they realized it was a quickly forming funnel cloud, she said.

“I got the phone out and began recording and then when we realized it was a tornado I started freaking out,” Hopkins told the Observer.

“I literally thought we were going to die. It was like a scene from a movie and my entire family was in the car … There was a moment where we couldn’t see the road, but we kept driving trying to get away from the storm.”

Her 16-second video has racked up 66,000 views as news outlets around the nation have reported on the violent storms that hit the region. She published it with the caption, “Lord keep us safe.”

The National Weather Service had not yet made an official confirmation of tornado activity in the state early Monday. But it’s believed at least one death may have been caused by a tornado in Greensboro. A motorist was killed when a tree fell on his car, media outlets report.

Hundreds of homes and businesses in Greensboro were also damaged Sunday afternoon, as the suspected tornado raced from south to north along the city’s east side, reported the Greensboro News & Record.

school.jpg

An aerial view of significant damage to W.M. Hampton Elementary School in Greensboro, NC after a tornado moved through the area Sunday afternoon

Travis Long tlong@newsobserver.com

Hopkins says her parents and her husband’s parents live in the area where the suspected tornado formed and both reported their homes sustained damage, she said. “But they made it out,” Hopkins said.

Another tornado was reported north of Greensboro in the Monroeton community southwest of Reidsville.

The Charlotte Fire Department said it responded to “numerous” calls about trees blown down by wind gusts onto houses and power lines.

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