According to reports, a violent storm blasted across North Carolina, seriously damaging a Pfizer pharmaceutical factory and endangering manufacturing lines that regularly provide massive volumes of medication to U.S. hospitals. Meanwhile, heavy rain caused flooding in areas of Kentucky, while people in certain regions of the United States saw record-breaking heat.
After a tornado arrived in Rocky Mount around lunchtime, Pfizer reported in an email that damage had been done to the massive production facility but that there were no reports of major injuries. A subsequent business statement confirmed that everyone had been successfully evacuated.
The Pfizer factory in Rocky Mount, which consists of a cluster of large buildings, had sections of its roofs torn off. Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone noted that the facility houses a lot of unused medication that was thrown around.
Stone added that reports indicated 50,000 pallets of medication had been dispersed across the premises and had been damaged by the wind and rain.
According to Pfizer’s website, the facility manufactures 25% of all injectable pharmaceuticals used in U.S. hospitals, including anesthesia and other drugs.
University of Utah Health’s senior pharmacy director Erin Fox predicted that the damage would cause persistent shortages as Pfizer relocates manufacturing elsewhere or rebuild.
WRAL meteorologists estimate that the tornado’s path was at least 20 miles long. In Nash County, the debris wall created by the tornado was around 2 miles wide.
The report described trees that had fallen across both lanes of I-95 near U.S. Highway 64 and Dortches, forcing the highway to shut before 1 p.m.
There was total chaos on the freeway, with cars swerving all over the place and even attempting to go in the other direction. Injuries, destroyed houses, and shattered windshields were reported around Nash County.
According to WRAL, around 3:30 pm, the highway was open again.
There was extensive damage to dozens of structures and some total losses. Sixteen individuals were hurt by the twister, and two are in critical condition.