Cleanup begins after storms leave thousands in the dark - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Cleanup continues after storms leave thousands in the dark overnight

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Damaging winds caused a line of damage across the WBTV viewing area Thursday afternoon as a strong line of thunderstorms pounded the area for the second time in four days.

The storms left thousands in the dark Thursday night across North Carolina.

On Friday morning, local officials are warning residents to be extremely careful during cleanup.

Residents are warned to stay away from downed power lines and to report them to the power company.

Duke Energy estimates power might not be restored in some hard hit locations until Sunday evening.

Temperatures are expected to rise. There are no shelters in Mecklenburg County. Some folks may have to stay in their hot homes.

Alice and Richard Chambers of Charlotte are waiting for power.

"Can't use microwave. No hot water" says Alice. "There's no way to cook off course. No air conditioning so..."

The Chamber have been adapting - trying to pass time.

Richard says they've been doing "crosswords, walking the dog, trying to see what we can do about outside which isn't very much without power."

A spokesperson for Duke Energy says the company doesn't pay for hotels or shelters because they would have to pass that cost onto rate payers.

Red Cross officials say if a need arises, they will work with Mecklenburg County officials to open shelters.

At the height of the storm, more than 350,000 Duke Energy customers lost power.

As of 5 p.m., there were 200,000 customers without power.

Some people are doing anything they can to survive the heat.

"We are checking into a hotel. I am hoping we don't have to check in more than one night," said Nancine Bowman.

Bowman lives in North Charlotte in a plan called Huntington Ridge. Her family had been without power since 4 p.m. Thursday. In Bowman's neighborhood alone, 280 Duke Energy customers lost power.

The Better Business Bureau is also warning people to be wary of scams where people show up at your door and offer to cleanup your storm damage for a fee.

Disaster relief teams from the American Red Cross is assisting the 30,000 people across the region without power.

Teams have been dispatched to Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Cabarrus, Montgomery, Rowan and Stanly Counties.

A shelter was setup last night for families in Stanly County. It closed at noon Friday after providing 60 meals brought in by the NC Baptist Men.

Much of the WBTV viewing area was under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for most of the afternoon until the storms arrived causing several Warnings to be issued as the system moved across the mountains and down into the Piedmont.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport was closed to arriving flights for over an hour due to cloud to ground lightning. Air traffic controllers had their hands full when the airport reopened to air traffic at 6:30 p.m.

Flights were delayed over an hour or more in some cases. The storms knocked out several traffic lights and blew debris into the roadway throughout University City around 5:15 p.m.

Wind damage was reported from the high country all the way back to the Piedmont.

WBTV viewers have sent in photos of downed trees on homes and cars as well as quarter-sized hails piling up in yards.

The system produced tornadoes in Iowa and brought damaging straight-line winds to the mid-Atlantic Thursday morning. 

Winds blowing up to 60 miles per hour were reported in Boone at 3:30 p.m. and were blowing between 30 and 40 miles an hour in Charlotte at 6:30 p.m.

The system moved through the region in about four hours.

Temperatures will fall Friday behind this cold front, with highs back in the low to mid 80s, setting the stage for a gorgeous weekend.

For an updated list of power outages, click here.

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