MATTHEWS – The community is dealing with the aftermath of severe storms that hit Feb. 6.
Trees fell into streets, on houses and in backyards throughout Matthews. Power lines were downed and roads flooded.
Several suspect the potential of a tornado coming through the area.
The National Weather Service Office in Greenville-Spartanburg said it is conducting a storm survey from Matthews to Gold Hill to assess the damages reported. Brad Panovich, chief meteorologist for WCNC, told his Twitter followers that a tornado with winds approaching 95 mph tracked from Carowinds to northern Union County.
As the storm continued to get worse, the Matthews Police Department sent out notices for the community to avoid certain roads with downed power lines, traffic light outages and flooding. Drivers were advised to turn around and go back the way they came if they approached a flood instead of driving through the water.
The next morning, several traffic lights along Pineville-Matthews Road were facing opposite directions and still out of service.
“It’s probably the most significant damage we’ve had directly in Matthews in quite some time,” said Tim Aycock, public information officer for the Matthews Police Department.
Aycock said the Matthews Police Department is still gathering statistics regarding the damage and the number of calls they received, but the information will be available soon.
One of the areas damaged was the outside of the Matthews HELP Center on Charles and North Ames streets. Trees fell in front of and around the center. Wind from the storm caused street signs and stop sign on the corner of the street to fall over.
Executive Director Sandra Conway said the center was one of many in the area still without power. Though the center was closed due to the damage and power outages, some volunteers showed up to help in any way they could. Conway said many volunteers and board members called her to ask if everything was OK.
“It’s devastating, but it has really rallied the community together,” Conway said.
Power went out at the Matthews HELP Center around 12:30 p.m., according to Conway. Volunteers and employees left around 2 p.m. due to the severity of the storm.
Conway said an insurance company will assess the damage and determine what is next.
“I’m not sure at all what’s covered, but if it’s not covered, we can reach out to our community,” Conway said. “I know they’d be here to help rally us to get rid of all of this.”
Other businesses in the community were also affected by the storm. Exchange Pizza Depot and Renfrow Farms posted photos of the damage on their social media pages.
The Matthews Police Department approaches storms differently depending on the severity, Aycock said.
In this situation, an emergency operation center was set up for local department heads to exchange information quickly, making the process more fluid. Officers responded to calls and were out on the roads directing traffic.
Aycock said it is their priority to help citizens, even when conditions are severe.
“In the biggest part of the storm, there may be a chance that officers have to stop moving their car and kind of shelter in place where they’re at at that moment,” Aycock said. “As soon as it’s safe for them to go back out on whatever route they were taking to wherever they were going, then obviously, they are going to get back out there to their job.”
The police department is still working on cleaning up the town with its public works department.
“We’re still working on a lot of stuff because even the trees that were cleared from the roads, they’re on the side of the roads now,” Aycock said. “Duke Energy still has several crews in the area. So, there’s still a lot to be done.”
Right now, officers are gathering information on this incident and planning for the future.
“Hopefully, we won’t have to do this again, but you want to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Aycock said.