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Winds, hail hammer Lincolnton

One of Lincolnton’s busiest roadways remained closed Monday morning after a brutal storm passed through the northwestern side of the city, bringing heavy winds to the area Sunday afternoon, toppling power lines and trees.
Storm winds uprooted a large oak that collapsed on top of the United States Post Office building in the heart of downtown.
Authorities were attempting to use a crane to lift the tree off the building Monday morning.
The Post Office’s retail unit remained closed as of 10 a.m., and P.O. Box mail distribution was expected to be delayed until workers could remove the tree, Post Office spokesperson Monica Robbs told the Times-News.
However, no delay is expected for street deliveries, and employees hope to be able to access the building by Monday afternoon in order to finish P.O. Box deliveries, Robbs said.
“Once we have determined the building is safe, we will resume retail operations as well,” she noted.
The tree produced a hole in the building’s roof, and a facility safety officer is expected to conduct a building inspection and assess the damage sometime Monday afternoon.
Regular mail delivery is not expected to be delayed as a result of the office building shutdown. Post Office employees were out sorting mail just after 8 a.m. Monday according to a Post Office employee who wished to remain unnamed.
Robbs said deliveries were already under way.
Earlier this morning, city crews shut down the 300 block of East Main Street but anticipated it would reopen around noon, Lincolnton Fire Chief Mike Lee said.
Sunday’s heavy storm additionally wrought significant damage along N. Cedar and N. Oak streets, where several power lines were scattered across the area. In addition, multiple lines and trees were down Sunday evening at Lincolnton High School, according to the city’s Public Works and Utilities Director Steve Peeler.
Among other notable damage, top portions of the Lincoln Drug building were broken off, and a portion of the chimney was torn away at St. Luke’s Espiscoal Church on East Main Street following the storm.
Despite intense damage and powerful winds, Peeler categorized the storm as being “very small.”
He and other city officials were still out surveying area storm damage just before 9 a.m. according to Public Works and Utilities Office.
In addition to downed trees, the brief 30-minute storm ushered in large-sized hail and tore down power lines, knocking out traffic lights and power for thousands of residents. Nearly 1,000 city customers were without power at the height of the outages following the storm, Peeler said.
However, he estimated that only around 15 residents remained without power as of Monday morning, as crews worked to restore the outages.
The storm also knocked out stoplights at many of Lincolnton’s busiest intersections, creating a headache for motorists Sunday evening, with many apparently not being aware of the law requiring those to be treated as four-way stops.
Even so, Kim Green, public information officer with Lincoln County Emergency Medical Services, noted that EMS officials only responded to one minor wreck during the stormy events.
EMS also had no reports of storm-related injuries.

JENNA-LEY HARRISON, Staff Writer

Image courtesy of Seth Mabry

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