Severe weather - including a confirmed EF-3 tornado - struck Ocean Ridge Plantation in the Ocean Isle Beach area early Tuesday morning that, at the time of publication had resulted in three confirmed fatalities and 10 confirmed injuries.
At least 50 homes were damaged during the severe weather event.
Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, Brunswick County Emergency Services and multiple fire and law enforcement agencies were on scene overnight, assessing damages and working to clear debris from roads. Emergency crews from Brunswick County Emergency Services and the Sheriff’s Office are continuing to assess the area for additional residents in need of assistance due to injury or damages to property.
Brunswick County opened a temporary shelter for individuals displaced due to the storm Tuesday morning. Individuals who need assistance and shelter can contact Brunswick County Emergency Services at 910-253-5383.
“It’s something like I have never seen before. A lot of destruction,” Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said at a press conference. “It’s going to be a long recovery process.”
Power lines in the area were also damaged, causing numerous power outages. Ocean Highway - U.S. Hwy. 17 northbound was closed Tuesday morning due to downed power lines, with traffic diverted in a section from Thomasboro Road to Ocean Isle Beach Road.
Power outages and extensive damage from the severe weather prompted Brunswick County Schools officials to close all schools to students and staff on Tuesday.
“Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), Brunswick County Emergency Services and multiple fire and law enforcement agencies remain on scene assessing damages and working to clear debris from roads,” BCSO stated on social media.
Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation (BEMC) was continuing restoration efforts in the areas hit hardest by the severe weather. As of 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the cooperative reported around 3,000 outages, down from a peak of 35,000 less than 12 hours prior to that. BEMC is working with county and city officials to expedite the final restoration efforts. The storm’s strength caused extensive damage to the cooperative’s transmission system, including downed poles and trees, with the most significant impact felt in the communities around Ocean Ridge in Ocean Isle Beach.