SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The Nation

April 18, 2011

South looks to recover from killer twisters

(Continued)

SANFORD, N.C. —

"It looked just like 'The Wizard of Oz,'" Audrey said.

They took shelter in their laundry room, and after emerging once the storm had passed, were disoriented for a moment. The twister had turned their mobile home around and they were standing in their backyard.

Milton found three bodies in their neighborhood, including 92-year-old Marchester Avery and his 50-year-old son, Tony, who died in adjacent mobile homes. He stopped his wife from coming over to see.

"You don't want to look at this," he told her.

The storms crushed trailer parks and brought life in the center of the state's second-largest city to a virtual standstill. It was the worst outbreak in the state since 22 twisters in 1984 killed 42 people.

Gov. Beverly Perdue planned to tour hard-hit areas in three counties Monday. The devastation she saw Sunday left her near tears, she said. The storm pummeled bustling cities and remote rural communities. One of Perdue's stops was downtown Raleigh, where fallen trees blocked major thoroughfares and damage to the Shaw University campus forced it to cancel the remainder of its spring semester.

Perdue said she'd been in contact with President Barack Obama, who pledged his support, and that federal emergency management workers were already on the ground.

"We have in North Carolina a tremendous relationship with our federal partners, and have been through this so many times," she said. "That's not a good thing. That's a bad thing."

One place Perdue was scheduled to visit was Bertie County, where storms were deadliest. At least 11 residents died, Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb said, including three members of the same family.

Jean Burkett lived near Roy and Barbara Lafferty and Barbara's mother, Helen White, in Colerain. Burkett and Barbara Lafferty graduated from high school together in 1964 and had always been neighbors. On Sunday, at her relatively untouched home, Burkett pointed out a row of four or five about 400 yards away that had been demolished. The Laffertys and Helen White died in their home.

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