State News

Easley: Community came together after storm damage

Posted May 13, 2008 10:36 a.m. EDT
Updated May 13, 2008 7:50 p.m. EDT

— Onslow, Bertie and Jones counties have come together and “done a great job” after Sunday’s devastating storm that damaged multiple houses, Gov. Mike Easley said Tuesday after an aerial tour of the damage.

According to the latest statistics the governor had for Bertie County, 16 houses were destroyed, three had major damage and 28 sustained minor damage.

On Monday morning, Easley dispatched damage assessment teams to the area. He said the state would help homeowners who lost their houses, most of whom lacked insurance.

“While we are fortunate that no one was killed in these storms, there is a lot of repairing and rebuilding to do,” said Easley. “We are going to work with local emergency management and volunteer agencies to do everything we can to help the families who have lost their homes and businesses get what they need to make it through this tough time.”

Falk Lassiter was one of those picking up the pieces Tuesday. He was inside his trailer with his girlfriend when the tornado hit Sunday night.

"I tried to close the door," he recalled. "The wind snatched me out the trailer and it took me with it."

After the wind dropped him, Lassiter watched as his girlfriend tumbled from the sky. He said both were lucky to survive.

She remains in the hospital, recovering from facial surgery. He is nursing cuts and bruises and dealing with the memories of what happened.

"I wish I had a magic wand to make it all like it was before the tornado got here. But ... we're gonna try and get it done as quickly as we can," he said. Some estimates put the damage over $3 million.

"This is a poor county and this is the poor section of that poor county," Lewiston Mayor Carl Lee said. "It's a bad situation."

The governor offered the possibility of federal assistance via low-interest loans and said he is considering declaring a state disaster area in the hardest-hit regions.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at Mount Olive Baptist Church at 102 Mount Olive Rd. in Windsor.

Residents can go to the shelter for food, water, counseling and to find out more about applying for financial assistance.

The state Division of Emergency Management also sent 100 tarps to Bertie County for residents to use while they repair roofs on their homes or businesses.

Easley will meet with local officials and emergency responders Wednesday to discuss storm damage in Onslow County.