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Cleanup ongoing one month after Carteret County tornado

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MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. -

It's been a month since a powerful tornado slammed into Carteret County, damaging more than 100 properties and injuring several people.

The cleanup effort is still ongoing in Atlantic Beach and Morehead City, but these communities have come a long way.

"If I hear the word ‘watch' or ‘warning' now, I move then, because it can be at your back door. It was at my back door," said Mel Hoard, who witnessed the tornado first hand.

Hoard says he'll never forget the day the twister destroyed his home, damaged his car, injured his leg, and put him out of work for five days.

But now he has a new place to live, his car is repaired, his leg is healed, and he's back at work.

Still, the tornado is hard to forget.

"It's just like it happened 10 minutes ago," said Hoard.

It only took a few minutes for the twister to cause $6.5 million in damage to both towns.

"It was a very different noise, and I'm glad when it went away," said Sally Hart, who witnessed the tornado.

The condos at Island Beach and Racquet Club are still being repaired. Several condemned buildings at Ocean Sands Condos are still standing.

Over in Morehead City, repair work continues at Carteret Community College. Debris is mostly clear from Carteret General Hospital property. Life is mostly back to normal in hard-hit areas.

"This neighborhood has done a 360 degree turnaround," said Vince Santoro, whose home at Country Club East was damaged in the tornado.

But life is not back to normal for all. Vince Santoro's family has to live in a rental home while their house gets repaired.

"Pretty much every aspect of a renovation has to be done here to make it livable," said Santoro.

For these folks, the storm's lasting impact was not the damage it caused, but the lesson it taught.

"Just knowing how fortunate we are to have everyone healthy and safe," said Santoro.

"I look at life a little differently now," said Hoard. "The grass is a little greener. The sky is a little bluer. It's good."

The Red Cross helped 16 families displaced by the tornado. They say one person is still looking for a permanent home.

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