Jona Smith and her husband had gone to bed Monday night, when what sounded like a train woke them up, and seconds later, the house began to shake.
Smith said they quickly got into the closet, with the thoughts of a tornado that ripped through parts of Sampson County just one week ago still fresh on their minds.
A severe storm struck parts of Sampson County Monday night, with indication of a small tornado in some areas. Smith, who lives beside her father, R.C. Thigpen, said she is sure what swept through her area was a tornado.
“We were in bed, when all of a sudden we heard that train sound,” Smith recalled, as she stood outside surveying the damage to the property around her home on U.S. 701 just outside of Clinton.
The next several minutes, Smith said, seemed like an eternity, as she listened to the wind whipping, hail hitting the sides of the house and debris falling all around her home and her father’s home.
A building just to the side of her father’s home, that the family uses for gatherings, suffered the most damage, with tin from the roof peeled back and one of the walls pulled away from the foundation. A door, Smith said, some how managed to be ripped off the frame, but the glass storm door that stood between it and the outside, remained untouched.
“I’m pretty sure what came through here was a tornado,” Smith said. “They can say it was straight-line winds, but I know what I heard.”
Surrounded by neighbors and family, Debbie Jackson stood next to her damaged home — sitting upside down. She was thankful to survive a terrifying moment on U.S. 421.
“I was very blessed that it wasn’t worse than what it was,” Jackson said Tuesday morning. “I thank God for watching over us and taking care of us.”
When the rain began to fall, Jackson and her family were asleep. She later woke up after hearing strong winds and went into the living room.
“My little one had came out of his bedroom running to me,” Jackson said.
Jackson and her son, Canaan Bell, sat on the couch together, while the wind shifted the home. Suddenly, the home flipped several times from its foundation and landed on her car.
“It started rocking … I held on to my 10-year-old.”
They tried to get balance after ending up on the ceiling.
Blood was dripping from the arm of her other son, Trent Emanuel. Jackson grabbed the nearest piece of cloth to stop the bleeding. Next, she called her parents who live across the way.
“They were here in a matter of minutes and we had to crawl out of the front window,” Jackson said.
The family traveled to the emergency room at the hospital for the injury. After spending the rest of the night at her parent’s home, she was assisted the next morning by co-workers from the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office. A lot of belongings such as dishes, food and clothing was saved with help from deputies and firemen.
“They all pitched in and helped out,” Jackson said. “It’s a great group of people.”
Now in the aftermath, Jackson will try to seek compensation through insurance.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be enough so we can start again,” she said.
Across the way, Chad Jacobs thought the worst part of the storm was over. He let his guard down and went to sleep, but he was awakened when a dog fence from Jackson’s property hit the side of the house.
“Then it was about 12 o’clock I heard something that sounded like explosions,” Jacobs said.
He looked outside and saw fence panels ripped from the ground. Later, Jacobs observed damage to his home, which lost power following the storm. A generator is supplying electricity to the home to keep food from going bad. The carport of his his home was damaged. Brick fell on top of his parked vehicle.
“It’s just stuff,” Jacobs said.
This is not Jacobs’ first time in a bad situation because of storms. He recalled a time, just seven months ago, when Hurricane Matthew left 3 feet of water in his previous home down the road.
“Any one that don’t know, my house is awesome,” he said while looking on the bright side of things. “I feel very fortunate because there’s people who took a lot more damage than I did. It’s just God’s blessing that (no one was killed).”
Following the storm, he was also thankful for the response from maintenance crews working to restore power or fix other matters.
“You couldn’t ask for no better response from the city,” Jacobs said.
Storm victims were assisted by neighbors and organizations such as the American Red Cross. Disaster Service Personnel John Welch and Bobby Currie drove around damaged areas of the county and delivered snacks, drinks and breakfast in the morning. Some of the places they traveled to were Brewington Road, Tyndall Bridge Road and High House Road. Welch has been helping for 15 years.
“If they need help, I’m glad to come out and give it to them,” Welch said. “We try to make sure everyone has what they need after what they been through.”
Kristy D. Carter contributed to this article.