North Carolina remembers deadly tornadoes 4 years later

Friday, April 17, 2015
North Carolina remembers deadly tornadoes 4 years later
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It's been four years since two dozen tornadoes cut violent paths through North Carolina, leaving 24 people dead.

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- It's been four years since two dozen tornadoes cut violent paths through North Carolina, leaving 24 people dead.

For some people in Fayetteville, rebuilding from the April 16, 2011 tornado is an ongoing process.

Hundreds of homes were damaged, and many people were never able to rebuild.

The scars from that awful Saturday remain in the Cottonade subdivision.

Michael Lewis remembers that terrible day every time he walks down the hall past pictures of his devastated neighborhood.

"I was devastated because five years before I was homeless, living out of my van for two years, and when I got the house, it was a blessing," said Lewis.

However, it was a blessing that was destroyed. Still, Lewis raised the American flag over his battered home and it became an iconic symbol of the destruction, and resident's determination.

The tornado cut a 10-mile long path of destruction reducing homes and businesses to rubble.

Areas in West Fayetteville really got hit hard. The storm came out of Hoke County, but it then hopscotched over Yadkin Road, came down York Street and slammed into the homes here.

Ten-year-old Alexa Smith said the storm destroyed her bedroom and everything in it.

"I was pretty much completely scared," said Smith. "I lost my bed, most of my toys. I lost almost all my clothes."

Mike Wilson is just thankful he and his wife were not hurt.

"I honestly thought we were done for because we saw the roof blown off. The house exploded around us while we hid under the desk," said Wilson.

Now, residents have a new respect for Mother Nature and appreciation for good neighbors.

"Everybody unifying, getting together, trying to help out, cutting trees," said Lewis. "It was like spontaneous right on the site as soon as it happened. Everybody was just trying to help."

According to reports, two people in Cumberland County died, and another 85 were injured.

Raleigh Landmark Rebuilds

RALEIGH -- Meanwhile, four years after a deadly tornado destroyed a Raleigh landmark, business is booming once again.

Earps Seafood had to be rebuilt after the twister struck.

The owner and about nine of their customers were huddling in the back of the store when it happened.

When the tornado touched down, most of the restaurant was destroyed. They were only able to salvage parts of some of the front and side walls.

It took nine months for Earps to rebuild. The manager said they were determined to reopen for their loyal customers.

"Someone came in here and said 'You know something, it was a big day.' And I said, 'Yup, it's been four years,' and I really can't believe it is been four years right now," said Earps Seafood Manager Daniel Stewart. "I'm glad we are back here and back open again for everyone to come back and see us."

The remodelled Earps is close to the original restaurant that opened nearly five decades ago.

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