Remembering the tornado outbreak: 5 years later

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Five years ago, on April 16, 2011, 30 tornadoes tore through North Carolina, killing 24 people and injuring 304 others. There were more tornadoes reported that day than any other day in history.

It was a day Chief Meteorologist Chris Hohmannn remembers clearly.

"We knew it was going to be a bad day and that there was a high risk of severe weather, but we didn't anticipate it being the worst day ever," he said. "All of the ingredients that you need for severe weather: instability, moisture, wind shear, it was all there and it was at really high levels."

Track of the April 16, 2011 tornadoes

It was all hands on deck for the First Alert Weather team as the storms approached from the west. The storm caused more than $328 million in damage across the state.

It's something Shaw University staff member, Angnes Baxter says she will never forget. Baxter has worked at Shaw University for 25 years, and recalls the devastation the EF-3 twister caused.

"It was just like surreal," she said. "It was unreal, it was totally unreal."

It was a scene out of a war zone. Twenty seven campus buildings were damaged in total and huge oak trees were ripped right out of the ground.

"The roof had peeled back on this building, glass was everywhere, everything was just like topsy turvy," Baxter recalls.

RELATED: Raleigh rebuilds, despite damage 5 years ago

A decision was made to close Shaw immediately. It was a tough time for the school, and there was concern it may take years to reopen. "What I can truly say is that we know that there is a God, because no one expected us to open in August," Baxter said.

Months later Shaw did reopen and they have been rebuilding and educating students ever since.

"It took every single facet of this campus," said Baxter. "Not just the campus but the community to kick in to at least get us back to the point where we were stable. The strength is immeasurable. The worth is immeasurable."

Report a Typo

Related topics:
Copyright © 2019 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.