Raleigh tornado survivors brace for Wednesday's storm

Posted February 23, 2016 10:47 p.m. EST
Updated February 23, 2016 11:10 p.m. EST

— With an approaching storm system already having devastating effects in Louisiana and Mississippi, fear of what the system could bring to North Carolina is fresh in the minds of those hit hard after deadly storms that devastated the area in 2011.

A storm system that is predicted to bring strong winds, hail, and possible tornadoes to the region has already left at least three people dead.

“Whenever I hear about the weather, it does bring a little anxiety to me,” Natasha Withers said.

Five years ago, Withers returned to a home that was devastated by a tornado. She is thankful that nobody was home when the storm moved through her McKinley Mill neighborhood, causing the ceiling to collapse in her daughter’s bedroom.

“[The garage] actually got thrown into the house next door,” she said.

One of Withers’ neighbors, Martin Evans, was home when the storm tore through.

“[There was] a lot of screaming. A lot of people did not know what was going on,” he recalled.

Evans’s family and a neighboring family took shelter in his basement. As clouds of debris and insulation swirled outside, he noticed his upstairs couch was on the back lawn.

The homes that were damaged or destroyed have since been rebuilt or repaired, but the experience has stayed with residents. Now, when the forecast threatens, Evans and his family hurry to the basement again.

“When we feel like it is clear, we will come back up,” Evans said.

Experts say that if damaging winds hit, people should go to an interior room or under a stairwell inside a sturdy building. People should avoid riding out a dangerous storm in a car or mobile home and remember that lightning remains a threat even after rainfall has stopped.