Local News

Wake County Residents Look Back at 1996 Tornado

Posted April 15, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— It came with little or no warning, but left a permanent mark on many residents of eastern Wake County. It was April 15, 1996 when the Triangle took cover as a powerful tornado swept through at dusk, leaving destruction in its wake.

That was Bret Baier's first day on the job as a reporter at WRAL-TV5, and as his first assignment, he was sent to Zebulon where the tornado looked like it might, and did with a vengeance, touch down.

Things at the West Side mobile home park look very different a year later. Many of the homes are brand new. The tornado destroyed 16 homes there last year. Miraculously, there were no deaths associated with the storm.

Residents, looking back, now think about whatmighthave happened. Maxine Conyers and her family took a terrifying ride inside their mobile home last year, even though they saw the funnel approaching.

The family fled from the trailer and took refuge in a nearby car, huddled inside until rescue crews came to help. Conyers' children remember the experience well.

The mobile home park is almost totally recovered. Only a few scars remain, but Tuesday night, residents such as Edith Durham took time to remember the year before. Durham says she sees storms very differently now.

Some families were forced to move out of the park after the tornado, but those who stayed are saying thank you to the community which helped them put their lives back together.