Easley pledges state assistance to tornado victims

Posted November 17, 2008
Updated November 20, 2008

— Gov. Mike Easley on Monday toured damage sites in Johnston and Wilson counties as teams began to assess the destruction wreaked by two tornadoes that tore through several counties while people slept Saturday morning.

After viewing the damage from helicopter, Easley said he was "amazed there were not more injuries."

Twisters killed two people – Joshua Wiggins, 11, of London Church Road in Elm City, and Marylin Gomez, 61, of Scott Road in Kenly – and damaged or destroyed 26 homes in Wilson and 40 in Johnston, along with one business. Preliminary estimates put the damage at $500,000.

"It appears that the tornado, rather than following a swath, it hopped around," Easley said. "It jumped around from spot to spot."

The governor said he chose to view the damaged areas from the sky, rather on the ground, to avoid disrupting recovery workers' efforts.

"it's better for us to stay out of the way and do the aerial tours. That way they keep doing their work," he said. "Let's just kind of stay out of here until recovery is complete. They're still in recovery mode in both counties."

Easley did not expect the extent of the damage would be enough to qualify for federal assistance, but he said the state was well positioned to provide aid.

"If we have enough damage, we get SBA loans from the federal government," said Easley, adding that the state can make emergency grants up to $28,000 if no federal funds are available.

"We'll be able to handle it on the state level if that's what we need to do," he said. "At the end of the day, we're going to make sure everyone is taken care of."

Star Edmonson, whose Kenly home got smashed by a tree, said she has already heard that message from state representatives.

"We've already had some of them to come through, tell us whatever insurance doesn't pay, we'll pay for," Edmonson said.

To receive state emergency grants, individuals must live in a county with at least 25 homes or businesses with more than 40 percent uninsured damage. The grants cover both building and personal property loss.

The federal government requires counties to have at least 100 buildings damaged to qualify for assistance.

Once the final estimates of damage come in, Easley said he planned to declare a state of emergency.

"The faster they get the information to us, the faster we can get assistance out to the families of the people that need it," Easley said.

In the meantime, Edmonson said she is confident she be able to get by.

"I've done all my crying. I've let it out, and the Lord just come to me and said, 'You're already alive,'" Edmonson said. "So that's what I'm living on: I'm alive; everything else can be replaced."

How to help

Memorial funds for the Wiggins family and those displaced along London Church Road have been set up through the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union. Donations can be mailed to:

Joshua Wiggins Memorial Fund
Acct. # 60531309
P.O. Box 8097
Wilson, NC 27893


London Church Road Family Disaster Relief
Acct. #60531311
P.O. Box 8097
Wilson, NC 27893

"They need everything they can get. At this point, they have nothing," Easley said.

The governor said the best way the public can help out storm victims is by donating to the Red Cross.

Checks should include "Wilson-Johnston tornado" in the memo line, and all donations can be mailed to:

American Red Cross
801 S. Third St.
Smithfield, N.C. 27577


This story is closed for comments.

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  • beachboater Nov 18, 2008

    That's right Mikey. Stay in the air and don't bother anyone. Don't want to associate with the common people. Just fly over. Maybe tip the wings. Oh, but we have plenty of money!!!!! Even though he was asking for more sales tax (tax on services) and Bev wants a higher gas tax.

  • CrewMax Nov 17, 2008

    My expectations of a leader would be to do a fly over on the weekend, shortly after the incident. But, then he should be on
    the ground to show his concern and to thanks the rescue and recovery teams and civilians who are helping their neighbors.
    This isn't a situation where you are danged if you do, danged if you don't. A leader would have done that would have been there for the people.

  • davidgnews Nov 17, 2008

    Is this just a coincidence or do we have a 5 day per week governor ? pald315

    Probably not even that much.

  • ifcdirector Nov 17, 2008

    Sounds about as detached as could be expected of Easley taking an aerial tour and all. Anything to get up in a state airplane I guess. The real question is did he use it as another excuse to be on "state business" then only to have himself dropped off at his beach property since he was so close by? It's the strangest thing I have ever witnessed in over forty years of life on this planet that Bev Perdue, a woman of similar elitist ilk and probably more corrupt, was elected to replace him. I can't get my head around that other than to believe that when racism causes masses of otherwise uninformed voters to vote a straight ticket this is the kind of government you end up with. Incredible. Keep flying Mike.

  • See Chart Nov 17, 2008

    This is about an" act of God disaster" not political ones
    plenty on both sides to blame for those.
    I hope people donate some money to those families that
    need help.

  • BadDayforButch Nov 17, 2008

    Glad to see Easley could climb off his mountain and go tour the damage. He lives down there in eastern NC doesn't he ? Would've been nice if he interrupted his weekend long enough to at least pretend he cares. Sorry about the bad attitude on this but he didn't even attend the funeral of a friend's son who served in the NC national Guard and was killed in Iraq. That also was on a weekend. Is this just a coincidence or do we have a 5 day per week governor ?

  • haggis basher Nov 17, 2008

    "Blaming Bush--that's sarcasm, right? You can't actually be serious!"
    I think it supposed to be sarcasm, ie he is a Bushie ribbing on the future Obamian Utopia

  • Question Nov 17, 2008

    Blaming Bush--that's sarcasm, right? You can't actually be serious!

  • mramorak Nov 17, 2008

    stopthehaters,i want him to be gone also

  • davidgnews Nov 17, 2008

    I'm surprised Easley could fit it into his schedule. No single couple to ever occupy the governor's mansion has had more contempt for the people of this state, bar none.