Hurricane Florence’s lumbering sweep through Gaston County on Sunday sent trees toppling into homes, knocked out power to thousands of people, and put officials on alert for the possibility of major flooding.

Midway through the afternoon, damage was apparently limited to a handful of isolated incidents. But emergency management officials were remaining wary of what could lie ahead into Sunday evening and Monday morning.

“Right now, the incidents have just come in those little clusters, and knock on wood, we’ve been able to clear what (trees) have gone down,” said Gaston County Fire Marshal Eric Hendrix.

Power outages

As of 10:30 a.m. Sunday, about 3,800 people in Gaston County were without power, according to Duke Energy.

By 3:30, the total customers with outages had dropped to 1,800, and Duke hoped to make more headway with that as the afternoon continued.

In all, nearly 470,000 Duke Energy customers had lost power across North and South Carolina as of midday Sunday.

Jackson Drive damage

Just before 10 a.m. Sunday, a large oak tree fell through a home at the intersection of Jackson Street and West Eighth Avenue in Gastonia, crushing the residence in half and also taking down a nearby power line.

A woman who rents the home was inside at the time with her two dogs. But she and the animals were not injured, as they were not on the side with the bedroom that was destroyed by the tree.

“I spoke to her,” said nearby resident Becky McBride. “She was shaken.”

McBride, Carl Stewart and Berry Ray were among the neighbors who stood and assessed the damage from the sidewalk after the incident. Several of them heard the tree fall – making a sound like a loud pop or a gunshot – and said it was unmistakable what had happened, as their homes are surrounded by tall, mature oaks.

“In this neighborhood, we’re all just waiting to see whose tree is going to fall,” said McBride.

Scattered incidents

About 2 a.m. Sunday, the Union Road Volunteer Fire Department announced that Bud Wilson Road in south Gaston County had been temporarily closed due to live electrical wires being down in the lanes of travel.

On Saturday night, a tree crashed through a ranch home on the 3900 block of Ferncliff Road. Homeowners Daniel and Vicki Craig were there at the time with other family members, and were about to eat dinner when the tree toppled just before 7:30 p.m., but no one was injured, according to the Union Road VFD.

Yellow tape surrounded the residence on Sunday morning. Next-door neighbor Dwain Furches was home at the time and said it was a godsend that no one was hurt.

“When it fell, it fell with a crunch,” he said. “I pretty much knew what it was. Nobody got a scratch on them anywhere.”

Flooding potential

A flash flood warning remained in effect for Gaston County until Tuesday, and a river flood warning was also in effect for the South Fork River near Lowell.

Flood stage there is 10 feet, and waters were expected to rise to 14 feet, said Doug Outlaw, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greer, South Carolina. That will likely cause flooding on several roads in the Cramerton area and some surrounding locations.

Hendrix said emergency management officials know the water will eventually come over the riverbanks.

“People just simply need to pay attention, monitor their surroundings and be vigilant,” he said. “Especially around Cramerton, people know if they’re around areas that are prone to flood, and they know where the water is going to go. So just stay out of those areas.”

You can reach Michael Barrett at 704-869-1826 or on Twitter @GazettreMike.