Local News

Tornadoes continue to haunt NC victims

Posted June 16, 2011

— The impact of the tornadoes that tore across eastern North Carolina two months ago, killing 24 people and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses, is very fresh for some storm victims.

Sherry Baker, her husband, Stanley, and their daughter Barbara suffered minor injuries when the tornado sucked their life's belongings into the air on April 16. They decided early on not to rebuild on Carroll Byrd Lane in Dunn, where they had lived for about 30 years, but uncertainty continues to rule their lives.

"I don't know what to do. I'm thinking about flipping a coin," Sherry Baker said Thursday. "Until you decide where you’re going and where you’re going to stay permanently, you’re kind of in limbo-land."

Baker said the family is weighing whether to remain in Dunn or move closer to the coast, where another daughter lives. Until they decide, they are living in a rented house with only the basic necessities, she said.

"It's a day-to-day thing," she said. "It's like you don't have a sense of direction."

She said she cries "like a baby" almost daily when she thinks about the tornado and how it has changed her family's lives.

"It’s a horrible thing, and I personally cannot get it out of my mind. It’s something that goes through my mind every day," she said.

Their movements are limited now by Stanley Baker's recent knee-replacement surgery. The operation had been scheduled for April 20 – four days after the tornado – but they had to push it back as they tried to recover from the storm.

"If I’d been laid up and wouldn’t have been able to move, I would have been back there where the tornado tore the back of the house off," he said. "We’ll find something to buy when I can get on my feet. (It's) another month before I can ride around somewhere."

Willie Wrench Tornadoes continue to haunt NC victims

Former neighbor Willie Wrench is rebuilding his home, which lost its roof in the storm, and he hopes to be back in his house by the end of the year.

"Everything is shaping up. It's looking good so far," Wrench said.

Still, he is also haunted by the tornado. He has been living in a trailer in his yard since then, but he said he slept in his truck one night because the high winds scared him.

"I still go to bed and hear glass (shattering) at night," he said. "It’s something you don’t get over overnight. Every time I see a bad cloud coming, I get scared. A lot of people, if you weren’t home and you weren’t in it, you don’t know what it was like, but if you (were) at home, it will be a while before you forget."


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  • Joani P. Jun 17, 2011

    We suffered minor damage here...our home and garage, cannot imagine what it is like for those who've lost a loved one or everything they own.My heart goes out to them.

  • computer trainer Jun 17, 2011

    Everyone has to deal with things in their own way. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have only to clothes on your back. Everything that you have worked for are gone, house, material goods, car. BUT, you are alive. Be thankful. Take the time that you need to make a decision that you can live with. But, know that live can always change again in the blink of an eye.

    I was not affected by these tornadoes or the ones in Alabama, but they really have caused me some angst.

    And it is not like you have to do something TODAY. Take your time.

  • vfore Jun 17, 2011

    I was in the 1984 tornados in the eastern part of the state and it will take you a long time to get over it, even with minor injuries. You will eventually will get over the losses but you'll never really forget what happened. Time always softens things.

  • Proud Wife and Mother Jun 17, 2011

    With my understanding of the article, that family is thinking about moving to the coast to be closer to their daughter, not to avoid future storms. Did I miss something?

  • NCSU24 Jun 17, 2011

    Hope the rebuilding process is fast for them.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jun 16, 2011

    jeff - "suck it up, just be glad you are alive. 24 people are not so lucky"

    Such compassion.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jun 16, 2011

    I would imagine so.

    Praying for them.

  • busyb97 Jun 16, 2011

    Moving to a new location doesn't reduce your chances (especially the coast!!), but I can somewhat understand the fear. It's a sound I won't forget, but we were the lucky ones. The storm was on it's way out/up in N. Wake County.

    My youngest son though still gets freaked out whenever there is talk of storms. Between the near-miss with the tornado and then a month later we were caught camping in VA with severe lightning (we left camp obviously for awhile). Now, when storms are in the forecast, he panics if he hears thunder, or wants to constantly check the radar.

    It will be a process. I can only imagine having gone through full devastation. It would be hard.

  • jeff27577 Jun 16, 2011

    suck it up, just be glad you are alive. 24 people are not so lucky

  • gallbury Jun 16, 2011

    I can't imagine what it would be like to carry that type of fear with you for the rest of your life. It must be a very helpless feeling.