Bertie family rebuilds stable to withstand tornadic winds

Posted June 20, 2011 5:45 p.m. EDT
Updated June 20, 2011 8:56 p.m. EDT

— This rural community in the northeast part of the state was hard-hit by the massive storm cells that spawned tornadoes throughout the region in April. A dozen people in and around Colerain were killed and homes, businesses and farms were decimated.

Recovery is slow, but steady, as people struggle to rebuild their lives and their livelihoods.

On Monday, Brookins Constuction of Holly Springs helped a Colerain family erect a new barn that can stand up to powerful winds after a tornado ripped through a stable that housed eight horses.

Charles and Leah Newsome own Oak Down Stables, which got its name after Hurricane Isabelle blew down several oak trees in the area in 2003. The land has been in the family for generations, and the tornado not only severely injured two of the Newsomes' horses – one had to be euthanized – it battered their family history.

"The barn shop my Daddy and I built in '83. The little office, the horse barn, every one had a little bit of meaning and a little bit of history," Charles Newsome said.

The century-old home where Charles Newsome's mother was born also took a beating in the storm.

"It just goes to show you nothing is guaranteed in this world," he said. "(The storm) has made me a very (distrustful) person, of people and God."

Leah Newsome called the twister "demonic-looking" but said it didn't shake her faith.

The new barn should be able to withstand 140 mph winds, Charles Newsome said. 

"(We) never will get back to like it was, but we hope to have a new normal soon," he said. "(We are) not going to give in; never have in 58 years, not going to start now."

The deadline to register for tornado relief aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency is Monday at midnight. Anyone living in the 19 North Carolina counties that were declared disaster areas after the April 16 storms is eligible for assistance.

FEMA can help with expenses that are not covered by insurance, so even insured tornado victims are encouraged to request federal aid.

To apply, visit the FEMA website or call 1-800-621-FEMA.