Local News

Raleigh woman who lost 2 children turns to faith, family in recovery from 2011 storms

Posted April 12, 2016 5:15 p.m. EDT
Updated April 13, 2016 8:30 a.m. EDT

— Cristina Alvarez will never forget March 15 and Sept. 27, the birthdays of her son, Daniel, and daughter, Yaire.

She'll also never forget April 16, 2011, when she lost both children – and two nephews – when a powerful storm ripped through Raleigh and demolished much of her Stony Brook North neighborhood.

Alvarez says the scene replays in her mind constantly.

"It's like it's every day," she said.

Alavarez remembers Daniel, who was 9, and Yaire, who was 6 months old, and she also remembers what happened on that day, when a tree fell on her home as the tornado carved a path of destruction through the City of Oaks.

She tried to protect her children in a closet of her mobile home, but the structure couldn't withstand the storm.

"It was really hard, and at some point, I thought I cannot do this," Alvarez says of moving on after the storm. "I had no car. I had no house. I had nothing. I had my husband beside me, and that's it."

She turned to faith and family, especially her sister, who also lost two boys – Kevin Uriel Coronado-Nino, 3, and Osvaldo Coronado-Nino, 8.

"When I talk to her, she always tells me, 'We are very strong women, and we can do it," Alvarez said.

Day by day, Alvarez began to move forward.

She's had two more kids.

"One is 2 years, the other one is 3-and-a-half," she explains, saying they have brought back the joy of motherhood.

Alvarez says her young children are reminded often about Yaire and Daniel.

"We always tell them they are in heaven," she said. "They are there, watching us."

Alvarez's sister has also begun to rebuild – she too has had two more children.

Alvarez says she'll never completely get over the damage the storm left behind, but she's working on building new memories with a smile on her face.

"I'm here right now. Yes, I'm smiling," she said.