Local News

Tornadoes continue to haunt NC victims

Posted June 16, 2011 4:15 p.m. EDT
Updated June 16, 2011 7:06 p.m. EDT

— The impact of the tornadoes that tore across eastern North Carolina two months ago, killing 24 people and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses, is very fresh for some storm victims.

Sherry Baker, her husband, Stanley, and their daughter Barbara suffered minor injuries when the tornado sucked their life's belongings into the air on April 16. They decided early on not to rebuild on Carroll Byrd Lane in Dunn, where they had lived for about 30 years, but uncertainty continues to rule their lives.

"I don't know what to do. I'm thinking about flipping a coin," Sherry Baker said Thursday. "Until you decide where you’re going and where you’re going to stay permanently, you’re kind of in limbo-land."

Baker said the family is weighing whether to remain in Dunn or move closer to the coast, where another daughter lives. Until they decide, they are living in a rented house with only the basic necessities, she said.

"It's a day-to-day thing," she said. "It's like you don't have a sense of direction."

She said she cries "like a baby" almost daily when she thinks about the tornado and how it has changed her family's lives.

"It’s a horrible thing, and I personally cannot get it out of my mind. It’s something that goes through my mind every day," she said.

Their movements are limited now by Stanley Baker's recent knee-replacement surgery. The operation had been scheduled for April 20 – four days after the tornado – but they had to push it back as they tried to recover from the storm.

"If I’d been laid up and wouldn’t have been able to move, I would have been back there where the tornado tore the back of the house off," he said. "We’ll find something to buy when I can get on my feet. (It's) another month before I can ride around somewhere."

Former neighbor Willie Wrench is rebuilding his home, which lost its roof in the storm, and he hopes to be back in his house by the end of the year.

"Everything is shaping up. It's looking good so far," Wrench said.

Still, he is also haunted by the tornado. He has been living in a trailer in his yard since then, but he said he slept in his truck one night because the high winds scared him.

"I still go to bed and hear glass (shattering) at night," he said. "It’s something you don’t get over overnight. Every time I see a bad cloud coming, I get scared. A lot of people, if you weren’t home and you weren’t in it, you don’t know what it was like, but if you (were) at home, it will be a while before you forget."