Thursday thunderstorms cause damage to Cabarrus Co., lightning sets fire to church

CONCORD, NC (WBTV) — Several families and a college are cleaning up after severe thunderstorms caused damage in Cabarrus County on Thursday.

A man on Rocky River Road had at least seven trees uprooted or snapped in half by high winds.

“Heavy rain and a real weird noise, not sure if it was a tornado or not,” Andrew Walker said.

Walker and his family were inside their home, a few yards from where the trees fell.

“We heard it, we saw it through the window,” he said.

A few houses down, his neighbors rely on a generator after the storm knocked out the power.

“We looked out the window just to see what was going on and then my husband noticed the ground started to go boom, boom, and he saw this big tree start to fall,” Amber Olafsson said. “He fell and he hit my parents’ motorhome, and our motorhome, caused a ton of damage. He fell straight into a power line, so we instantly lost power.”

The storm didn’t stop there, a flash of lightning triggered a Barber Scotia College chapel fire.

“We have internal damage from water, roofing, benching and things like that,” said Dr. Tracey Flemmings, acting president of Barber Scotia College.

The college attributes the actions of a neighbor who saw the lightning strike.

“A gentleman was sitting on his porch so he saw the lightning when he hit he didn’t see the smoke at first so maybe 10 seconds, 15 seconds later that’s when he saw the smoke and that’s when he called the fire department,” Dr. Flemmings said. “With his quick action, we were certainly able to recover a lot.”

Cabarrus County residents are just grateful that no one was hurt by the storm.

“We were safe, that’s the main thing,” Walker said.

“It was no coincidence that a big storm came in yesterday, and we trusted God to protect us,” Olafsson said.

The people here hired contractors to clear the trees here and repair their roofs.

Barber Scotia College said it needs financial support from the community to help repair the chapel.

Related: Work continues to restore power and clean up debris after severe storms on Thursday

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Jerry B. Hatch