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Fayetteville tornado survivor: 'I had to level my entire home'

Posted April 16, 2012

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Twisters cut a half-mile wide swath through the western and northern fringes of Fayetteville last April, destroying more than 140 homes in Cumberland County and damaging another 1,300. One person in the county was killed.

A year later, the Cottonade neighborhood’s debris and rubble have turned into home construction and new life.

Tornado in downtown Raleigh April 2011 tornadoes

“Trees came through the roof and destroyed my entire house. Then, I had to level my entire home,” said resident Mark Thompson, who moved his family and eventually came back home around Thanksgiving. “I displaced my family, but we made it through. We made it through.”

Dandelions have replaced what used to be Thompson’s next-door neighbor’s house – a neighbor who chose not to rebuild. Thompson said he has no plans to leave.

“I’ll be here for the next 30 years,” he said.

Fayetteville tornado survivor: 'I had to level my entire home' Fayetteville tornado survivor: 'I had to level my entire home'

The tornado leveled dozens of homes in the neighborhood, but the howl of the storm yielded to the sound of chainsaws. New shingles, new bricks and new growth soon sprouted.

William Parker was standing in his business, Pentagon Barber Shop on Yadkin Road, when the roof collapsed on him, leaving him temporarily in a wheelchair with his arm in a sling. He was back on his feet by September, cutting hair again.

“How great people are. How helpful they are when you’re down and out,” Parker said. “That’s the biggest thing I can say. People have been great.”

Soon after the tornadoes barreled through the area, a crisis counseling program called "North Carolina on the Road to Resilience" took shape. The group, which mostly serves Cumberland and Sampson counties, is funded by a federal grant and helps people after the storm, whether they need counseling or help dealing with paperwork. Volunteers also speak at schools and churches about emergency preparedness.

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  • storchheim Apr 16, 2012

    And the best part is, we taxpayers ponied up for a jobs program - oops, I mean "crisis counseling" just for this. One. Event. A year later, we're still funding it.

  • Uhavenoclu Apr 16, 2012

    A year later, the Cottonade neighborhood’s debris and rubble have turned into home construction and new life

    So get off the sorry sympathy kick...They had insurance they rebuilt their homes probably better then before and are living better them most are right now.Who cares about the Tornado..Remember the lady who kept looking back and dwelling on the past??...She turned to stone...Boo hoo

  • anonemoose Apr 16, 2012

    Farmer, evidently a UNC Journalism grad...

  • karmagrant Apr 16, 2012

    it's called a typo.

  • mfarmer1 Apr 16, 2012

    what is this word on the picture caption "morningna", I have never heard of that word before and not sure what it means.