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Hardest-hit Raleigh neighborhood rebuilds after tornado

Posted April 16, 2012

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— Last year’s April 16 tornadoes left a wide path of destruction, but no area was hit harder in Wake County than Stony Brook – a neighborhood of mobile homes in northeast Raleigh, made up mostly of Hispanic people, many of whom spoke very little English. But their story of rebuilding can be understood in any language.

Tornado in downtown Raleigh April 2011 tornadoes

It was a Saturday afternoon, and the clouds were beginning to build. Manuel Arnenta was home on Branchwater Circle, watching through his window as the storm approached.

“It was, like, 4 o’clock. It got dark, and it started to rain hard,” he recalled recently. “A big noise came from this way, and all the mobile homes blew out.”

The tornado was on the ground for more than 67 miles, leaving a path of destruction from Moore County to Raleigh, with maximum wind speeds estimated at 160 miles per hour. Dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed.

Arnenta was lucky. His home had only missing shingles and broken glass, so he turned his attention east. He saw a thin metal shell of a mobile home that had four children inside and rushed over to help.

“I see them, all four kids together. They (were) in the bedroom,” Arnenta said.

Even clinging together, the four children were powerless against the force of the storm. Siblings Daniel Quistian-Nino, 9, and Yaire Quistian-Nino, 6 months, and their cousins, Osvaldo Coronado-Nino, 8, and Kevin Uriel Coronado-Nino, 3, died as a result of the storm.

“The tree chopped through their roof and the floor, too, and pushed all the way down to the ground," Arnenta said.

A year later, it's hard to find any sign of the storm. Empty lots look more like gardens, sprouting utility boxes from the ground where damaged homes once sat. New and remodeled homes are sprouting up as well.

Hardest-hit Raleigh neighborhood rebuilds after tornado Hardest-hit Raleigh neighborhood rebuilds after tornado

Arnenta says neighbors don't talk much about that day one year ago, but they'll never forget when the storm clouds began to build.

“The tornado passed, maybe like 10 seconds, 15 seconds. That's it,” Arnenta said. “But when we go out, we see everything destroyed, all the mobile homes, trees, everything.”

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  • ProudBlackSingleMother Apr 17, 2012

    In the Socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods , nobody did nothing cause everybody else did it for them.

    I am proud of my brothers and sisters.

  • tgiv Apr 17, 2012

    Our home had to be re-shingled, re-sided, windows replaced, trees destroyed, personal belonging ruined, but thank God not one serious physical injury to anyone in my family. My son still get's a little nervous when the sky darkens ahead of a storm, but he's getting better too.

    We aren't of Mexican descent, but I believe our neighbors across the street are. I'm not sure why any decent person would even bring up such a thing when discussing a natural event that killed some children. I can assure you when we all went outside after the storm checking on the welfare of the families in our subdivision, national origin was the very last thing on anyone's mind.

    I guess if your life has never been impacted by something like this, or if you never needed the help of someone who doesn't happen to look like you, then any subject is fit for crude jokes. In my experience people either mature and evolve over time, or just devolve to become even more stupid.

  • bobbyj Apr 17, 2012

    dear lord do either of you people have a heart. we are all humans..... so sad that that is what you decide to post.

    I guess elementary educations leads to this type of posting.

  • NCHighlander Apr 16, 2012

    ok,,can we have a new leading story...how about the AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO HELPED EACH OTHER ..since we are in AMERICA and not MEXICO ! DAAAH!

    Excellent post. I totally agree.

  • Desiderata Apr 16, 2012

    ok,,can we have a new leading story...how about the AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO HELPED EACH OTHER ..since we are in AMERICA and not MEXICO ! DAAAH!