The sound of chainsaws chopping up downed trees is ubiquitous in areas of Raleigh hit hardest by Saturday’s storm — South Saunders Street, neighborhoods near Shaw University and the Stony Brook North mobile home park.
Despite the cleanup efforts, an unknown number of Raleigh residents remain homeless after an extraordinarily strong tornado ripped through the central part of the city Saturday. The same tornado destroyed a Lowe’s home improvement store in Sanford.
As of Wednesday morning, 1,500 Progress Energy customers were still without power in North Raleigh and Cumberland County.
Residents whose homes are not habitable have taken advantage of two shelters run by Wake County and the Triangle Area Red Cross, as well as the homes of friends and family. Wake County officials said they may not have an accurate count of all displaced residents for several days.
On Tuesday night, 140 people slept in the two Wake County/Red Cross shelters at Garner United Methodist Church and Heritage High School in Raleigh. This number has not changed much since Sunday night, when 131 residents took advantage of the shelters.
Heritage High School students will return from spring break next week.
“We’re looking to get folks into more permanent temporary housing as soon as we can accomplish it,” said Sarah Williamson-Baker, public information officer for Wake County.
Massive Damage, Promise of Help
City of Raleigh Department of Inspections surveys have concluded that 63 single-family homes were destroyed in Saturday’s tornado. Major damage occurred to 184 homes and minor damage to 851 homes, according to the city. Among business properties, city officials said one was destroyed, 11 suffered major damage and 22 received minor damage.
On Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama declared disaster areas in parts of North Carolina, including Wake County. This designation allows the county and its residents to receive some relief from the high cost of repairing damage in the form of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money. How much money the county will receive and when it will arrive remain unknown.
“We’re in the preliminary stages,” said Williamson-Baker. “A lot of work has to be done before that starts happening.”
North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue has established a disaster hotline at 1-888-835-9966. The FEMA hotline is 1-800-621-3362.
Stony Brook North Reopens
On Tuesday evening, the Raleigh Police Department began allowing residents of Stony Brook North trailer park to return to their homes.
The community has been closed to all foot and vehicle traffic since the tornado devastated the area Saturday, killing three residents instantly: brothers Osvaldo Coronado-Nino, 8 and Kevin Uriel Coronado-Nino, 3, as well as their cousin Daniel Quistian-Nino, 9.
On Monday and Tuesday, residents had been allowed back onto the premises three to five people at a time to recover items.
Raleigh police on the scene reported Tuesday that 25 of the 183 trailers at Stony Brook North were destroyed by the tornado. Although media were not allowed access to the affected area at the time, relief workers bringing food and drinks to cleanup crews described massive destruction, with mobile homes wrapped around trees.
The Salvation Army of Wake County offered food, clothing and toys across the street from the trailer park’s entrance on Monday and Tuesday until late in the evening. Shelia Leach, a leader in the group, estimates that 300 people came Monday to partake of services.
Other faith-based groups and churches have come to the area to help in any way they can.
Local churches have acted as go-betweens for displaced Stony Brook residents and members who have space to offer in their homes.
“Everyone’s been really nice,” said Leach, referring to Stony Brook North residents. “Everybody’s had a good attitude, with not one fuss, not one argument, not one misunderstanding.”
St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church has created a fund to help the family of deceased Stony Brook North children. If you are interesting in contributing, call Hector Velasquez, deacon at the church, at (919) 865.5700.
Disposing of Storm-Related Waste
Raleigh residents (no businesses or contractors) may take yard waste debris directly to the City’s Yard Waste Recycling Center at 900 New Hope Road and fees will be waived.
The Yard Waste Recycling Center will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice.
Owners of residential and commercial properties can take construction and repair debris to Wake County disposal sites:
Owners of residential property can dispose of construction and repair debris at the following Wake County sites:
All disposal sites will operate daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.