Rebuilding From Disaster: Bertie County, NC tornado

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 4:37 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 4:48 PM EDT
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(WHSV) - On August 4th 2020, Hurricane Isaias made landfall in southeastern North Carolina. Isaias was a category 1 storm with maximum winds of 90 mph.

As Isaias moved up the east coast, it spawned multiple tornadoes including a deadly tornado in Bertie County, North Carolina which is north of the Greenville area. The tornado was rated at EF-3 strength with winds up to 145 mph.

“When you hear people say it sounds like a freight train, it actually sounds like a freight train,” said Carshenia Ryan, a Bertie County resident. At one point, the tornado was 600 yards wide which is the length of six football fields. The tornado was powerful enough to level a mobile home park. Two people were killed and a dozen others were injured. The tornado hit in the middle of the night around 1:15 am.

“Everything unraveled so quick and everything seemed like... the noise... I can’t even describe the noise but it was loud; it’s horrible. And I grabbed my little three-year old and jumped on the floor,” said Keyarta Ryan, a Bertie County homeowner.

Dozens were left homeless desperately needing help.

“It takes a while for them to come down, there’s just not going to come over. We need to drink some water today, we can’t wait for a truck with canned food. We need to help them now until the main help arrives. We are kind of putting the bandaid on the surgery until the doctor gets here,” said Rev. Rodney Coles of the Churches Outreach Network.

The community came together to help those who had lost so much. “We never experienced anything like this but I thank God that we are here to tell the story,” said Allison Williams, a tornado victim. “You will never understand that feeling of you know going to bed at night and the next morning not having anything to your name,” said Mitchell Cooper, Bertie County Emergency Services Director.

In the past, Bertie County has dealt with tornado devastation. “We’ve had tornadoes before... we’ve lost 10 to 12 individuals before... we’ve had multiple weather incidents, storms, hurricanes so not our first rodeo but that doesn’t make it any easier,” said Ronald Wesson, Bertie County Commissioner.

While people may have lost all their belongings, hope was never lost. Bertie County was one of fifteen counties in North Carolina to receive federal help. “It’s going to be a better tomorrow... it may not seem like it now, but it will be, “Allison Williams said.

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