Ashe County High School gym, auditorium damaged in heavy winds

Hurricane Force Winds Damage High School

WEST JEFFERSON, N.C. (WBTV) - Video outside of Ashe County High School in the early hours Thursday shows winds whipping, and major gusts toppling things like benches outside the school’s doors.

Inside, the impact of that wind focused on the school’s roof.

“It would just lift the roof up, and then just throw it back down,” Ashe County Schools Superintendent Phyllis Yates says.

That is why Yates closed all schools Thursday, after seeing pounds of cast iron, bits of drainage pipe, that had rained down on the high school’s gym and auditorium.

“I’m so…God thank you,” she says. “Because we didn’t have anybody here. Because I’m telling you, at that point you would’ve seen, if you would’ve seen some of that piping and those jagged edges and all that, you wouldn’t know what would happen if people were hit with that.”

Schools will reopen Friday, but no one will be allowed inside the high school’s gym or auditorium. Those spaces will close as they are being fixed in the next few weeks.

In Blowing Rock, homeowners felt similar affects of the overnight winds.

“It looks like a little bit of a disaster zone today,” Mark Gilleskie says.

“Broken poles, a lot of trees down,” Eddie Stephens with Blue Ridge Energy says.

His crews were at work many hours Thursday to bring things back to normal, as people nearby came up with more creative ways to keep warm.

“Camp fire stove, and the coffee pot,” Gilleskie says. “[We] had the gas logs going, and we were good to go inside.”

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