"I ain't never seen anything like this," Steven Swain, a survivor of Monday night's tornado brought on by Hurricane Isaias, told ABC11. "The only time I've seen it is on TV way off somewhere."
The storm hit land at Ocean Isle Beach on Monday night around 11 p.m. as a category 1 hurricane. By 6 a.m., it was out of North Carolina, moving north into Virginia.
Two were killed in Bertie County when an EF-3 tornado took out a mobile home park.
According to the National Weather Services, peak winds were between 140 and 145 mph.
The Bertie county tornado had 140-145 max winds. It was on the ground for 10 miles, and it was 600 yards wide. pic.twitter.com/iS0gitNcNZ— Brittany Bell (@BrittanyABC11) August 5, 2020
The devastation hit home for Swain and his neighbors living near Windsor in Bertie County. The tornado skimmed past Swain's home, sparing him, his girlfriend and two young children.
"It sounded like 18-wheeler (trucks) were coming," he said. "As it was getting closer and closer all I could do was just grab my kids and hold them in a knot."
While Swain's immediate family survived, he'd soon learn the severe weather killed his beloved aunt, 52 year-old Leitha Edwards. Another neighbor, 62-year-old Randolph Harold, also died.
"I'm going to miss seeing her at cookouts," Swain said. "She'd come to my house my girlfriend would do her hair and do her braid she'd be smiling. I'm going to miss seeing her passing by and blowing the horn."
Gov. Roy Cooper toured the damage in Bertie County, speaking to residents and first responders.
"Your aunt was killed? I am so sorry," the governor told Swain. "I've seen some damage before but this is pretty devastating. We're going to help you."
Cooper was joined by Emergency Director Mike Sprayberry, Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina) and Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, among others. Together they surveyed the damage and expressed concern over Bertie County being one of what are town as Tier One counties - those that lack the kind of resources richer and more populous counties like Wake have at their disposal.
"To hear the stories, it gives you a lot of motivation to try to help," Cooper insisted. "Housing is an issue we have to address. Health care is an issue that we have to address. This community means a lot to me. I grew up in Nash County and used to take the activity bus to Bertie Central to play football and basketball. The people of this community are very special."
Butterfield, visiting from Washington, echoed that sentiment.
"Your government, your governor and your congressman, and both the state and federal government will be here for you."
Some Bertie County residents will be allowed back to their homes Wednesday.
Cooper said President Donald Trump pledged to send federal assistance for the storm clean up.