Local News

NC marks one year since lethal tornado swarm

Posted April 16, 2012 6:26 a.m. EDT
Updated April 16, 2012 11:42 a.m. EDT

— Survivors, the bereaved and the people who helped them are marking one year since a swarm of lethal tornadoes ripped across North Carolina.

On April 16, 2011, 25 tornadoes touched down in 33 counties. The twisters killed 24 people and destroyed or damaged more than 6,500 homes and 113 businesses.

The most lives lost were in rural Bertie County, where 12 people died.

Four of the dead were children in the Stony Brook North mobile home park in north Raleigh – siblings Daniel Quistian-Nino, 9, and Yaire Quistian-Nino, 6 months, and their cousins, Osvaldo Coronado-Nino, 8, and Kevin Uriel Coronado-Nino, 3.

"We feel a lot of peace in our hearts, and we know they are with the Lord now," Cristina Nino-Alvarez, the mother of Daniel and Yaire, said after her children's funeral last April.

Shaw University planned a ceremony Monday to officially reopen its student center and thank donors and volunteers who helped the school rebuild. The tornado damaged 27 buildings on campus and forced the university to cancel the rest of the school year.

Events to mark the anniversary of the tornadoes began this weekend.

Highland Baptist Church in Raleigh recalled how dozens of its members spent days cutting down trees, securing houses, covering roofs and removing debris from homes and yards in the storm's aftermath.

"It's a celebration of how God used this church to respond immediately" to tornado victims, said Lin Honeycutt, a member of the church and volunteer with the North Carolina Baptist Men.

Glenn Jackson attended Highland Baptist Sunday morning to say "thank you" after his home was hit by a tornado last year.

"We had men out there for weeks," he said. "It was just a daunting task."

Residents along King Charles Road held a block party Saturday to celebrate the yearlong efforts to restore their neighborhood which was ravaged by the storm.

"For the most part, everybody is pretty much back to where they were," said resident Josh Wiggs. He was also celebrating the first birthday of his son, Hudson, who survived the tornadoes at 5 days old.

Anna Johnson is looking forward to moving back into her King Charles Road house after finishing repairs next month. The tornadoes sent a tree crashing through her roof and into her living room.

"I can't wait to say, 'Hello, house. Momma's back,'" Johnson said with a laugh.