Tornado

A Raleigh man is getting a national honor for his work in the aftermath of last April's deadly tornadoes. Al Mignacci will receive the U.S. Small Business Administration's "Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Volunteer."

One year ago today, tornadoes tore across North Carolina leaving death and damage in their wake. While many areas are continuing to recover, some have made the long journey back, better than ever. 

Gurnal Scott: April 16th 2011, much of North Carolina got an up close and personal look at Mother Nature’s fury.

Weather Service: The National Weather Service in Raleigh has issued a Tornado Warning for Northern Nash County, Northeastern Franklin County.

Emergency management officials are encouraging businesses and citizens to create safety plans for severe weather.

Jeff Tiberii: Last year North Carolina had 63 tornadoes touch down, more than double the state's annual average. Julia Jarema is with the department of public safety. She says each year there are thousands of severe weather warnings throughout the state. And she adds, knowing what to do before the weather moves through is a critical step:

Clean-up continues in Davidson county where two people died following a tornado on Wednesday.

At least 11 people were taken to the hospital following the severe storms. The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado touched down near Lexington just after 6pm. Major Larry James is with Davidson County Emergency Services. He says the path of the tornado was tight, but caused some significant damage.

Larry James: Preliminary figures look like somewhere between 35 and 50 structures with some varying degree of damage.

The City of Fayetteville wants the remaining damaged homes from the April 16th tornadoes cleaned up. The twisters that swept across the state left thousands of homes damaged or destroyed. Scott Shuford, Fayetteville's Development Services Director, says they've identified 85 homes in need of extensive cleanup or repair four months after the storms hit. He says they don't have any jurisdiction to do anything about homes that are just eye-sores.

Victims of North Carolina's April tornadoes are entering their last week to apply for disaster aid. The Federal Emergency Management Administration extended the deadline from last week to July 5th. The extension came after the state said less than a quarter of victims who claimed they needed assistance had submitted applications. Officials also added Alamance County to the list of North Carolina disaster areas last week. North Carolina Emergency Management spokeswoman Julia Jarema says some residents are still assessing the damage done to their homes.

An elementary school in Fayetteville that was damaged by an April 16th tornado could reopen sooner than expected. One of the strongest tornadoes that touched down that day blew much of the roof off Ben Martin Elementary School. No one was injured in the incident. Students have been going to class at two other schools nearby. Administrators said they hoped to get students back to Ben Martin by December. But principal Crystal Brown says they now expect to move in at the end of October.

A Lowe's home improvement store in Sanford all but leveled by the April 16th tornados will be rebuilt. Construction will begin May 25th at the same site where Lowe's employees rushed customers to safety as the tornados approached. Bob Bridwell is the Director of Planning and Development for Sanford and Lee County.

Bob Bridwell: "Lowes is the symbol of our storm damage here in Lee County. It's also the symbol of our recovery. So seeing this come back to life for the rest of the town I think is extremely important."

Debris from last month's tornadoes that hit central North Carolina is still being cleaned up. In Raleigh, officials are advising residents to get the rest of their yard debris out to the curb by June first. There is also an effort by city workers to clear streams and rivers of downed trees that could contribute to flooding. Steve Abbot works for the state Department of Transportation. He says contractors are still collecting debris outside of Raleigh as well. 

Raleigh will host a benefit concert for tornado victims. The city hopes to raise money to give to charities, including the Salvation Army and the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.  

The “Rise Up Raleigh concert” will include 11 bands and take place at the Downtown Raleigh Amphitheater - just 200 yards north of a spot where one of the tornadoes touched down.

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