Life and death in path of tornadoes
A series of storms left houses damaged in the Tarawa Terrace II area of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
April 18th, 2011
09:20 AM ET

Life and death in path of tornadoes

Police in Sanford, North Carolina, are crediting the manager of a Lowe's Home Improvement store and his staff with saving the lives of dozens of people when a tornado struck Saturday afternoon.

Manager Michael Hollowell looked out the front of the store and saw the tornado approaching, CNN affiliate WRAL-TV reported. He alerted his assistants via in-store phones, and they helped get about 50 employees and as many as 60 customers to the back of the building, where walls of concrete joined to provide strength and there was no high shelving with heavy items. The dozens of people huddled shoulder to shoulder to escape the storm's fury.

"One person didn't save all those lives," WRAL quoted Hollowell as saying. "It was a team effort."

Storms that swept across the South over the weekend killed 45 people, including 22 in North Carolina, authorities said.

Among the dead were three children in one trailer home at the Stony Brook North mobile home park in Raleigh.

According to CNN affiliate WNCN-TV, police said Cristina Alvarez gathered the three children and another 6-month-old in a closet to seek shelter from the storm. But a tree fell onto the home, killing Daniel Quistian, 9, Osvaldo Coronado, 8, and Kevin Coronado, 3. Alvarez is the mother of Daniel and the baby and is believed to be the aunt of the other children, police said.

"I went to the home where the children were killed. It's really bad," WNCN quoted Raleigh police Maj. J.C. Perry as saying. "It's unlike anything I've seen before."

Of the 200 homes in the mobile park, 100 are expected to be condemned, officials told the TV station.

In Onslow County, Marines pulled a 23-month-old boy alive from the rubble of a destroyed home after the child's mother stood up from the wreckage and said her child was buried, CNN affiliate WCTI reported.

"I started looking for stuff on the ground that was, you know, items for a baby and I started getting to where I could see a lot of baby stuff and I found the crib, and when I lifted the wall up, there was the baby right there," Sgt. Gregory Shafer was quoted as saying.

Shafer and fellow Marines Sgt. Jarred Boone and Lance Cpl. Thomas Dickerson were barefoot as they searched through the debris and stepped on nails and glass during the rescue, according to the station.

"The ony thing I thought of is, what if it was my daughter?" Dickerson told WCTI. "So I didn't even think about what was going on."

The child was in critical condition at a hospital Sunday, according to WCTI.

Shaw University student Julius Stukes Jr. grabbed a video camera and gave a tour of the campus ravaged by a tornado Saturday.

In the school's William E. Gary Student Center, Stukes is stunned by the destruction.

"All of the offices are done. Oh my God, this used to be an office - it's not anymore," he says during the video provided to WNCN. "Our campus is done. The whole campus is done."

The university has suspended classes for the rest of the spring semester, the station reported.

In Ammon, North Carolina, 70 miles south of Raleigh, Milton Powell told CNN affiliate WWAY-TV that a tornado lifted his home off the ground and spun it around twice.

"It was just like a bad ride," WWAY quoted Powell as saying. "Everything outside came inside and everything inside went out. I've got two dogs missing. I found one last night and have one missing that I think might be under the trailer."

Nearby, Marchester Avery, 92, and his son, Tony Avery, 49, were killed in their mobile home.

"Everything is just a total loss," Lottie McKoy, a family member, told WWAY. "Not only the death, but everything that they owned. You can see that everything is just mangled."

Post by:
Filed under: North Carolina • Tornadoes • Weather
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Windy

    Give up?

    April 18, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jon O

    David = Failure as an American

    April 18, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. A Mom

    Play the video to hear the amazing Lowes story. The employees are heros and did save lives. The people who huddled together in the safe part of the building made it in there with only about 10 seconds to spare before the winds came rushing thru.

    April 18, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. Maru A.

    Please build better homes. Remember the Three Little Pigs story where those who built lousy homes get destroyed.

    April 18, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dustin

    Preliminary National Weather Service records indicate more than 90 tornadoes struck North Carolina on Saturday, more than four times the average 19 that hit the state in a typical year. It also exceeds the previous North Carolina record of 66 for an entire year, set in 1998, according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center.

    As someone stated earlier the typical NC tornado is a funnel cloud that never touches ground or an EF 1 that is very short lived and bounces around instead of staying on the ground. A few of these tornadoes Saturday stayed on the ground for close to 100 miles. Alot of them were EF 2's and EF 3's. Very unusual for NC. We expected bad weather and the usual isolated tornado, but nothing of this magnitude.

    April 18, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. fixit (George D.)

    Bets are David M is the name hijacking troll with multiple personalities that has been plaguing these boards. Ignore is the key, don't even acknowledge. That's what the individual wants, attention, don't give it to "him/her".

    April 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz

      I may be a "newbee" to this blogging thing, but truer words have never been spoken. To all please Heed George's advice it will save you a lot of headache.

      April 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jazzzzzzz

    Hey George D. , Nice to see ya. Liked your comment yestereday , good post.

    April 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy

    Wow...amazing Lowe's story. Well done!
    Heroes, if you ask me!

    I live in an area that, while it not technically "tornado alley", gets a fair amount of tornado warnings and touchdowns. It's scary as hell, and sometimes the storms come about very, very quickly. Such was probably the case at Lowe's where people were caught off guard, anthony. All the weather service can predict when conditions are right for a tornado, they cannot predict a *path* for it, like they can with hurricanes.

    My condolences to the families of those who perished. May God bless them.

    April 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. popeye

    My heart does go out to the folks who lost friends & loved ones . I don't remember who posted it but storm shelters in mobile home parks would be a great idea.

    April 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
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