One month later: Bertie County recovers from fatal tornadoes

Posted May 16, 2011 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated May 16, 2011 5:47 p.m. EDT

— One month after a devastating storm that killed more people in Bertie County than any other county in the state, residents are struggling to return to normal life in the wake of disaster.

Clean-up in the rural region is progressing, but getting back to farming is a slow process.
"You've got to stop every 15 minutes and pick up a board with nails in it," said farmer Kenny Ray.
In Colerain, Raymond Cale is laying brick under his new mobile home. 
"Things (are) coming together slowly," he said. "We're making progress now. We'll be there in a couple more weeks."
Cale was lucky. He wasn't home when the twister hit and said he can't bear to imagine what his neighbors went through.
"Well, three of them got killed. I don't know what would have happened here; if we'd been here, I guess we'd have been killed, too," he said.
It's a long road to recovery, but clean-up volunteer David Early said the people of Bertie County are hard-working and quick to help their neighbors.
"I was overwhelmed," he said. "The Wednesday after the tornado came through, we had 106 volunteers here."
Debris has been cleared in most of the county's 741 square miles, where 12 people died in the tornado, but the hard work is far from over, Early said.
Luckily for residents like Cale, who's eager to rebuild his home and his life, the community, however heartbroken, is standing together.
"We've got tremendous friends," he said. "I didn't know how many friends I've got and everyone of them has been right here on time."