updated 3/8/2004 2:53:39 PM ET 2004-03-08T19:53:39

Thousands of homes and businesses had no electricity Monday in North Carolina following a storm with wind gusts up to 70 mph that was blamed for two deaths.

The storm that struck on Sunday followed a rainstorm earlier in the weekend in Kentucky that caused flooding in which three people died.

The wind blew down trees and power lines and damaged transformers Sunday. Fallen power lines were blamed for dozens of home and brush fires.

“We expected a cold front to move through, but we didn’t think the wind would be this ferocious,” Gaston County Emergency Management Director Jim Pharr said.

More than 130,000 customers had no power Monday morning, down from more than 200,000 after the storm struck, utility officials said.

Fayetteville resident Melissa Clark and her family took shelter in a downstairs bathroom when the lights flickered and they heard the storm.

“We heard high winds and heard things hitting the house,” Clark said.

One man was killed in Huntersville when he was struck by a falling tree as he secured loose furniture on his deck, police spokeswoman Pam Barger said.

In Surry County, a motorcyclist was killed when the wind blew him into the path of oncoming car, authorities said. Three people in the car were uninjured.

Up to 3 inches of rain fell across Kentucky from Friday into Saturday, the National Weather Service reported.

In central Kentucky, the body of a woman missing since a flash flood swept her car into a creek was found Monday, seven miles from the spot where her car was caught by the rushing water, authorities said. The body of a 4-year-old girl was found Sunday in eastern Kentucky, and the body of a man was found Saturday.

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