Three people were killed after a possible tornado ripped through North Carolina Tuesday night, destroying at least 50 homes and leaving thousands without power from a winter storm that is pummeling the country’s south and mid-section, authorities said.
The suspected tornado in Brunswick County, North Carolina, touched down just before midnight, injuring at least 10 others, Brunswick County Emergency Services said.
The worst hit area was in the Seaside coastal community, about 45 miles southwest of Wilmington, where many homes were ripped from their foundations and trees were snapped in half, according to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.
Power lines were also down, leaving thousands without power, Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation said.
Kate Gentle of Shallotte told NBC News Tuesday that the storm was “absolutely crazy.”
“I’ve never felt a thunderstorm beneath my feet,” she said. “The floor was vibrating.”
County emergency management officials said there were reports of people trapped in homes or feared missing as rescue operations got underway.
First responders, fire departments and law enforcement were on scene all night assessing damage and clearing debris.
The National Weather Service will survey the damage later Tuesday to determine if a tornado touched down in the area.
The deaths came in the wake of a major storm that is pummeling swaths of the country with ice, snow, and freezing rain.
In Texas, nearly 4 million people woke up without power as the state’s electric grid was unable to keep up with residents’ demand for power, according to poweroutage.us.
Two people, including a child, died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was used to generate power for heat, Houston Police said.
The winter storm dropped snow and ice from Arkansas to Indiana, bringing record-low temperatures from Oklahoma City to Minnesota’s Iron Range, where thermometers dipped to minus 38, the Weather Service said.
According to the forecast, wintry conditions were expected from Ohio Valley to Pennsylvania and Maine. The storm was expected to move into the northeast Tuesday, the Weather Service said.