A possible tornado did not stop Frank Dalton’s audience from wanting to listen to his every word.

Dalton was the speaker for Friday evening’s Relay for Life Survivors’ dinner at the HJDB Event Center in Bassett.

The power went out during the dinner, but that didn’t stop anything, said Relay for Life MHC Director Michelle Adcox Graham in a text conversation.

“When it came on and  the alarms began sounding on everyone's phones, we were moved to the inner hallways for safety. Our survivors wanted to stay and listen to this very inspiring man,” she said.

Friday evening the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning from 7:17-7:45 p.m. for some parts of Henry County.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar, according to the NWS.

In Martinsville the tornado sirens sounded. Matthew Burks and Jaimie Sowder of Oak Level were at Goodwill in Martinsville when they heard the sirens, and the “sky looked wild,” Burks wrote.

Brian Williams of Martinsville was in a scary place to be during a storm: the Smith River, at a river access ramp in north Bassett waiting to pick up some fishermen coming downstream on their raft.

“In an instant the wind became so strong you could see swirling sheets of rain and you could hear this roaring, and hail started pummeling me,” he wrote. “It seemed like the wind and hail was coming from every direction.”

He could hear tree limbs snapping. The wind was so strong he was afraid to get in his truck, he said, so he went into a semi box trailer for shelter from the flying debris. 

It only lasted five minutes, “and as it died down you could still hear trees snapping,” he wrote.

Fishing guide E.J. Stern of Raleigh Flyfishing came rowing in, with a client in his boat, about 10 minutes later, Williams wrote. Stern and the client had stayed rowing in the middle of the river as trees came down around them.

On the way back, trees were blocking Trent Hill Drive so they had to detour up VA. 57, where downed trees continued to present obstacles.

“Although it was unnerving while it was passing through, it was more frightening after it was over and I realized how lucky we’d been,” Williams said.

"When the storm got over top us, you could see and feel the power, you could feel the storm pulling air up," Burks said. "Clouds were so low they looked as if they were touching top of trees, everything was so rapid, clouds moving so fast. Felt like something was going to drop down any moment. Was very intense"

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