Day after EF-1 tornado in Garner, neighbors help each other: 'Community like no other'

Sean Coffey Image
Monday, December 11, 2023
Day after tornado rips through Garner, neighbors clean up
The EF-1 tornado touched down in the Woodlands community- bringing down trees, scattering a path of debris, and damaging dozens of homes.

GARNER, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cleanup efforts in Garner continued on Monday, a day after a powerful, EF-1 tornado touched down in the Woodlands community.

The storm downed trees, leaving a trail of debris, and damaging dozens of homes. ABC11 Eyewitness News reconnected with some homeowners still hard at work 24 hours after the storm, who expressed gratitude for the immediate action taken by community members and neighbors.

"It was so hard to comprehend, but at the same time it was like there was a feeling of relief because as soon as I came outside, there were people on the street asking me if I was OK and offering help. Like, not even 30 seconds after the tornado occurred," said Griffin Stanley, whose home and car were damaged by a massive downed tree on his property.

Stanley is one of the countless homeowners dealing with the fallout from the storm. Still, he's grateful things aren't worse -- for his neighbors who have helped along the way.

"The community in Garner is like no other," Stanley said. "They've always been bound together. And this is just another -- this is just more proof of that."

One day later, progress is being made. Town officials say all roads are back open Monday, damaged traffic lights are back up and running -- and power outages have been mostly resolved. Most importantly, no injuries or deaths have been reported. Across the street from Griffin, Pablo Sanchez and his wife are thankful the fallout wasn't worse. Their home was mostly spared but their backyard is a mess, and their shed was destroyed.

"We were honestly really grateful," Sanchez said. "Like, what's in there -- our bikes, a lawnmower? Like everything's replaceable. We're just very grateful that nothing happened to the house or us."

Pablo said he knows there's still much to be done.

"People were working until like 10 p.m., then this morning really early," he said. "The city came in, they were picking up debris and stuff so I think it's going to be like that, like all week or something."

Other community members are trying to help with that. Brian Edwards has lived in Garner for 10 years and is the Store Manager of Lowe's on U.S. 70, just a couple miles from where the tornado touched down.

"We found a bunch of homeowners out just trying to get things cleared up. So we immediately went back to the store and started donating everything we could to get them some help," Edwards said.

In total, Edwards donated thousands of dollars in chainsaws, chains, fuel, rakes and more. He says the all-hands effort to get the neighborhood back upright after the storm is what living in Garner is all about.

"No matter what's going on in the world, when something bad like this happens, people get together and they start doing the right thing to make sure that everyone's taken care of," Edwards said. "And they did it here without us. They were working hard and putting in the effort and we just wanted to do the little part that we could."