Local News

Volunteers repair tornado-wrecked neighborhood

Posted July 16, 2011 3:13 p.m. EDT
Updated July 16, 2011 7:27 p.m. EDT

— Dedicated volunteers are helping pick up the pieces in a northeast Raleigh neighborhood torn apart by a powerful tornado three months ago.

Four children were killed when a tornado struck the Stony Brook mobile home park, off Brentwood Road, on April 16. More than half of the neighborhood's homes were also damaged.

"I had two choices: either sit out on the couch all day doing nothing or come out and try to help people out here," volunteer Al Mignacci said.

Mignacci, who has been volunteering at Stony Brook 12 hours a day since the storm struck, said there were 163 homes at the community when the tornado hit. About 40 or were replaced by the land's owner, Colorado-based American Residential Communities. The rest were left for volunteers to repair, said Mignacci, who has become the community's volunteer coordinator.

Leticia Torres came to Mignacci to ask for help repairing the home she shares with her children, 17-year-old Brian and 2-year-old Alexis.

The family stayed with Torres' brother, Edwin Euceda, while volunteers helped put a new roof and walls on her home.

"She's very happy, very grateful, thanks God who brings all the people to help her," Euceda said, translating for his sister.

Getting donations for supplies and building materials has been a bigger problem than manpower, Mignacci said.

Local churches – in Torres' case, St. Raphael's Catholic Church in Raleigh – adopted some families and covered their rebuilding costs. Stony Brook sees anywhere from four to 40 volunteers a day, Mignacci said, including many from the North Carolina Baptist Men.

A Methodist church group from Dayton, Ohio, was helping out Saturday as part of the North Carolina Baptist Builders, a disaster relief network associated with the Baptist Men. They arrived in the state on Thursday and are scheduled to leave Tuesday.

"We want to come here and show there is hope for people in Raleigh, and they haven't been forgotten about," Ohio volunteer Kate Smith said.