Local News

Cleanup Efforts Continue After Severe Storms Hit Eastern N.C

Posted April 15, 1999

— Residents in parts of eastern North Carolina are still cleaning up from Thursday night's severe storms.

Most of the damage was in Robeson County, where several homes were destroyed and one person died.

According to authorities, Michael Ray Strickland, 36, was killed about 8 p.m. Thursday when high winds destroyed four trailers at the Chavis Mobile Home Park.

Damage was also reported at the Hidden Valley Mobile Home Park off Highway 74.

In Bladen County, high winds blew down trees and overturned mobile homes at the Monroe Mobile Home Park. The area once had six mobile homes sitting side by side; now it is a big pile of rubble.

The National Weather Service confirms it was a tornado that hit the area just outside of the town of Tar Heel. The twister snapped 100-year-old trees in half, destroyed mobile homes and blew rooftops into branches.

Seven people were hurt. Rescue crews say, amazingly, only minor injuries were reported.

Eileen Kuntz is still shaken up over what she and her 8-year-old daughter lived through Thursday night.

"The trailer started shaking and I said, 'Kaitlin, get in the bathtub.' And I got on top of her and we started praying and we sang 'Jesus Loves Me' until we stopped," she says, her voice still shaky from the thought.

When they stopped, they were still in the bathtub, more than 100 yards away from where their home once stood.

Friday, Kuntz and other residents of the Monroe Mobile Home Park picked through the debris, looking for belongings that cannot be replace.

Derek Druzak is looking for the special things; baby pictures and presents from his grandfather.

"I'm just trying to get what little bit is left of my house, trying to get my stuff and personal belongings out," Druzak says.

While Druzak is able to search, that is not the case for neighbor Amanda Monroe early Friday.

Her mobile home landed on top of a pile of debris. It is too dangerous for her to pick through right now, but she already knows what she will be looking for.

"My wedding dress is something I'd like to have," she says. "We talked about when we'd have children, we'd have it!"

Just down the road, 84-year-old Marjorie Robeson and her family were crushed over the damage to their home. The property has been in the family since 1732.

In seconds, trees were torn apart, the roof broken into pieces. State inmates were brought in to help with the cleanup and were able to salvage an old horse carriage, but a lot of the home's history was blown away.

Volunteers are on hand in both counties to help with clean up efforts. Local emergency management and volunteer emergency crews are also on hand to lend support. Many of the storm victims are staying with family members. Agencies are helping with food and money for those in need of a place to stay.


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