Matthews Continues to Recover in Aftermath of EF-1 Tornado

 
Posted on Friday February 14, 2020
 
On Thursday, February 6 at approximately 12:18 pm Matthews was hit with severe weather. The storm hit the hardest along Highway 51 east of Elizabeth Lane Elementary and through parts of downtown Matthews and Novant Hospital, causing downed trees, power outages, and extensive damage along the way. Areas along Phillips Road were also hit. Fortunately, there have been no reported injuries from this event.
 

Matthews, NC - On Thursday, February 6 at approximately 12:18 pm Matthews was hit with severe weather. The storm hit the hardest along Highway 51 east of Elizabeth Lane Elementary and through parts of downtown Matthews, Novant Hospital and along Phillips Road, causing downed trees, power outages, and extensive damage along the way. Fortunately, there have been no reported injuries from this event.

Emergency Response
Within an hour, an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated in Matthews. An EOC is established so leadership from all town departments can convene in one location to gather and analyze all available emergency information in an effort to deploy staff and strategies in the most effective way possible.

Matthews Public Works, Matthews Police Department, and Matthews Fire and EMS immediately began to clear roads of fallen trees, clear clogged storm drains, direct traffic at intersections without power, ensure safe travel and respond to calls for service. During the peak of the storm and the immediate aftermath, the Matthews Police Department Communications Center fielded approximately 93 calls for service that were directly related to this weather event.  Of these calls, there were:
36 downed trees
17 into power lines
4 on residence
2 on cars
1 onto an apartment building
19 downed power lines
3 downed power poles
8 traffic signals out
1 commercial truck blown over

There were also 28 roads blocked with trees and one blocked by flooding. By 10:00 pm on Thursday, all of the roads blocked by trees that were not associated with power lines had been cleared. 

Damage Assessment 
On Friday, the National Weather Service (NWS) came to Matthews to survey the damage. After touring Matthews with Town officials, the NWS confirmed an EF-1 tornado with winds up to 95 mph. According to the preliminary assessment by Mecklenburg County, the total estimated cost of structural damage is $759,020. This does not include damage to Novant Hospital which needs further assessment. 
Breakdown of structure damage:
51 structures identified in Matthews
43 owner structures and 8 rentals
12 commercial structures and 39 residential single family
Classified as follow:
9 affected single family
15 Minor structural single family
10 Minor structural commercial
13 Major structural single family
2 Major structural commercial

Current State of the Town
Currently, all power has been restored in Matthews. All roads are fully clear. Crews from the Town of Matthews, along with Republic Services, with assistance from the City of Charlotte, have been clearing storm debris from town-maintained areas and rights-of-way. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is responsible for clearing debris from state-maintained roads, including Highway 51, John Street and Phillips Road. Crews are working as quickly as possible, but pickup will take some time. Residents who hire a tree removal service are reminded to please have that company haul away the debris. 

Residents are reminded to please follow these guidelines for pickup: 
- Branches and limbs must be cut and stacked into small piles.
- Branches must be cut in lengths of four feet or less and can be no larger than five inches in diameter.
- Limbs must be stacked in small enough piles that an individual is able to pick up with a pitchfork at the curb.
- Smaller yard waste including; brush, tree & shrub trimmings, and leaves needs to be bagged in clear bags, or other bags left open so the driver can see the contents.
- Do not leave bagged yard waste or limbs and branches blocking the sidewalk or in the street.
- Each residence shall be limited to a max of 20 bags or an amount that can be picked up in a max of 20 minutes each week.

Thanks and Appreciation
"I can't say enough about the exceptional work of our Police, Fire and Public Works employees," said Mayor John Higdon. "They did an incredible job under these difficult circumstances. I spent several hours with one of our crews from Public Works after the storm and their dedication to the Town is unparalleled. We’ve also seen tremendous examples of the community coming together with neighbor helping neighbor and that is part of what makes Matthews so special. I am confident the spirit of this community will endure long after the damage is cleaned up and repaired."

Town crews will continue right-of-way cleanup until it is completed, but as of Thursday evening, the Matthews Public Works Department alone has already logged over 630 hours of overtime in response to this event. The Fire and Police Departments have also provided hundreds of additional hours of work.

In addition to the response by Town departments and Duke Energy, the Matthews Police Department Citizen Volunteers and Matthews Fire & EMS Fire Corps have also provided vital support and assistance. The Town is also thankful for assistance received from many of our own neighbors, including the Mint Hill Fire and Public Works departments, Stallings Fire Department, the Mecklenburg County Fire Marshall's Office, and the City of Charlotte.

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