Local News

Durham man's family killed in Alabama tornado

Posted March 5, 2019 5:58 p.m. EST
Updated March 5, 2019 8:10 p.m. EST

The Lee County, Alabama, tornado hit close to home as one Capitol Broadcasting Company employee had seven members of his family killed.

Erroll Reese, a host of the Sports Shop on the Buzz radio station confirmed his tragedy, saying at least 30 more members of his family now have no home.

Aerial video from news helicopters show the devastation. It's devastation on top of the hardships Reese's family faces daily.

“It's lower middle class, the area they live in,” he said in an interview with WRAL's Rosalia Fodera Monday night.

The Alabama Reeses and other extended family lived on Lee County Road 39. A clip from WSFA TV pinpointed the moment the tornado hit that area.

“Everybody was living on the same street,” Reese said, “Fifteen family members on the same street.”

More than half are missing or were killed in the storm.

A video posted online shows Earnestine Reese wrapped in a blanket and sitting on top of the rubble that was once her home. She can be heard in the video praising her survival, “ I thank the Lord, you tell God, 'Thank You,'” she wails.

Melissa Woodson lives a short drive away. She's a member of the family too, and praying for Earnestine.

“She is my aunt by marriage, and she is in the hospital," Woodson said.

Woodson is helping the family raise money with a GoFundMe page.

“She lost everything, the only thing they have is the clothes on her back. The house was just totally destroyed, so they don't have anything," Woodson said.

“It's devastating when you think about it,” Erroll Reese explains, “I was sitting there just a while ago thinking, 'How do you handle this, what do you do, who do you reach out to?' and before I knew it, people were reaching out to me trying to help.”

Reese's fraternity is planning events to help out, and he wants to remind everyone, cherish every moment of life.

“You never know, how your day may go. You feel like you're in a good place, but things change over night, and it changed the lives of my relatives overnight in Alabama," he said.

The family believes their faith and their friends will get them trough this.