Editor’s note: C5 writer Bryan Richards sent the following Wednesday night after a tornado ripped through his Ayrsley neighborhood. The National Weather Service confirmed Thursday that a EF1 tornado with winds up to 90 mph hit south Charlotte.

About 6:30 p.m., my family and I left our home in Ayrsley to go out to dinner. We were about a quarter mile south of Westinghouse on South Tryon Street when traffic came to a halt. As we slowed, both of our phones alerted us to a tornado warning, telling us to seek immediate shelter. I could see a torrential downpour ahead of us with strong winds blowing the rain sideways and swaying cars.

Not wanting to get stuck in traffic, I made a U-turn and headed home. In less than five minutes, all of the power was out, including traffic lights. As we entered our neighborhood, which spans between Westinghouse and I-485 off South Tryon, we saw debris everywhere with many trees down. Talking to neighbors, one confirmed that he did see a tornado.

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Once the storms past, I surveyed the damage. There were no injuries or major destruction. There was a large gas leak in one of the nearby factories, but the fire department confirmed that it was fixed. The damage we were left with included collapsed decks, shattered windows, damaged roofs, and over-turned air conditioning units. Some of the deck parts and shutters that were airborne took out windows.

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The homeowners association, Southern Community Services, was quick to respond and had emergency restoration services onsite by 10 p.m. to board up windows and temporarily fix leaking roofs. Power was still out as of 10:45 p.m. with no indication as to when it will be turned back on.

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Photos: Bryan Richards

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