Raleigh neighbors remember deadly 2011 tornadoes

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As Severe Weather Preparedness week kicks off in North Carolina, Raleigh neighbors who survived deadly tornadoes eight years ago are reflecting on the storm.

On April 16, 2011, 30 tornadoes slammed North Carolina, killing 24 people. The storm also ripped through Ben Falk’s neighborhood in Raleigh.

“That afternoon, everything changed permanently in this neighborhood,” he said.

Falk’s home was one of several damaged on North King Charles Road.  Falk said he hadn’t paid much mind the weather alerts that day, but ended up taking cover in his basement.

“The speed that it came through here, and the speed that it left was something I’d never seen before or experienced, and I hope I never experience again,” said Falk.

Six trees fell on or around Falk’s home. It cost him more than $60,000 in damages.

Across the street, Ruby Miller and her son Paul also sought safety in their basement on April 16, 2011.

“My husband didn’t want to go. ‘No I’ll stay up here.’ I said, ‘No. They said to go downstairs.’ So we went downstairs,” Miller said. “If we had been up here, we wouldn’t have survived.”

The Millers’ home was a total loss. Several oak trees came through the roof and into the kitchen and bedrooms. Firefighters used chainsaws to rescue the family from the home. 

“Everything was destroyed. What we could salvage, we could salvage, but everything else was just gone,” Paul Miller said.

The neighbors said they learned a valuable lesson: to be prepared for severe weather. 

“Anytime there is a weather alert, take it seriously.  Even if you think it may not impact your area,” Falk said.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety recommends families come up with a plan and make kits ahead of any potential storms. 

“Make sure you have a bag that’s already packed that has everything in it that you’re gonna need. All your important papers, money, snacks,” said Miller.

Schools and government buildings will hold tornado drills on March 6 at 9:30 a.m.

For more information on Severe Weather Preparedness week, click here.

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