Scars remain five years after deadly Bertie County tornado

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COLERAIN, N.C. (WNCT) – “I remember it sounded like the house was just coming to pieces and everything and I was laying on the floor,” said Teresa Perry, who survived a deadly tornado in 2011.

Many in Bertie County remember the April 16, 2011 tornado like it was yesterday.

An EF-3 tornado packing winds over 135 mph tore a path of destruction through the small town of Colerain. Teresa Perry’s home took a direct hit.

Once the winds died down, Perry tried frantically to dig herself out of the rubble to help her husband, Robert, who was calling for help.

It wasn’t long before she realized just how badly she was injured.

“My whole leg on the left side was just split wide open, so I passed out,” said Perry. “But then I don’t know how long I laid there but when I came back to again, I called him and he didn’t say anything. I called my aunt, she wasn’t saying anything.”

Hours later, she got the news that her husband and aunt were found dead in the woods behind where their house once stood.

Less than a mile away, Raymond Cale, whose home was destroyed, still counts his blessings.

His wife, Ethel Cale, who’s battling a chronic illness, got sick on that day.

“I feel like the Lord just pulled us out of here, to save us. Because she was alright just a little while before the tornado came, but she got sick and I had to take her to the hospital,” said Cale.

Their neighbors just two houses down weren’t so lucky.

“They were three nice people. They were the nicest neighbors we ever lived around. We had some good times together. In fact, Miss White, we had just had her birthday party 15 days before the tornado hit,” Raymond added.

Helen White had just celebrated turning 90 years old.

Scars like this destroyed home remain five years after those Saturday storms, but people continue to band together and march on.

In the weeks and months after the storm, damage was cleaned up and homes were rebuilt. However, the memory of it all still haunts many in this tight knit community.

“First time we hear that thunder we start getting scared. And we’re not the only ones round here that get scared either,” said Raymond.

“Just being here by myself is kind of hard, but I’m managing. Yep, I’m managing,” said Perry.

Many of the rebuilt homes now have FEMA safe rooms, designed to be indestructible during extreme weather.

It’s a little piece of mind for many who watched an April tornado five years ago change their lives forever.

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