Colerain woman reflects on storm that killed husband, aunt

Posted May 16, 2011 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated April 6, 2016 1:56 p.m. EDT

— Bertie County is one of the least populated counties in North Carolina, but when powerful tornadoes blew through the state April 16, it had the highest number of casualties.

One month later, the rural farming county is trying to overcome the tragedy that wreaked havoc on homes, businesses and lives.

Teresa Perry was home with her husband and family when the twister barreled through.

"It was terrifying," she said. "When we looked out the window and saw that storm coming toward us, it was terrifying."

Perry's husband and aunt were killed.

"All I could hear was glass breaking. The house felt like it was just coming apart," she said. "That's all I remember."

Ten others died in the storm. For the people affected, healing and rebuilding lives is a slow process.

"Anything like this is going to be slow, or seem slow to the people involved," said Colerain Mayor Burney Baker.

Nearly 90 homes in the area were damaged and 67 were destroyed. Insurance money and federal loans are helping, but Baker said the real cost to the county can't be measured.

"This situation hits particularly hard. How are you going to put a price on the loss of life here?" Baker said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided a temporary home for Perry on the site where her mobile home once stood, but she's eager to move.

She said the memories of the storm that took her family are just too strong.

"It was something I will never forget," she said.

Perry received the first FEMA trailer in the state. There are four others being used by storm victims, 15 being prepared for families to move in and 11 at the agency's staging area.