At least 22 people were killed and another 130 seriously injured over the weekend when tornadoes tore through at least 20 counties across the state.
The fatalities occurred in Wake, Johnston, Cumberland, Harnett, Lee, Bertie and Bladen counties, said Julia Jarema, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.The US Army's Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, NC and USMC's Camp Lejeune outside of Jacksonville, NC lost power and had structures damaged in the storms. Although there were no reports of injuries or fatalities, Fort Bragg was closed off to non-essential personnel for the remainder of the weekend as utility crews worked to restore power and clear fallen trees and debris. Some 70 miles to the east a tornado struck a USMC family housing area in Camp Lejeune. There were no reports of fatalities, but Marines pulled a 23 month old boy from the rubble of one home. He was life-flighted to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville, NC with fractured ribs, a cracked pelvis, broken femur and collapsed lung.
The worst-hit area appears to be Bertie County, where authorities say 11 people are dead. About 75 people were going from door-to-door looking for victims and survivors Sunday.
Several of the dead were all from one family, Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb said.
"It's very devastating. These kinds of fatalities are not something we're used to," he said.
Some people survived even as their homes were torn apart around them, he said.
"There were several cases of houses being totally demolished except for one room, and that's where the people were," Lamb said. "They survived."
Sgt. Jarred Boone, Lance Cpl. Thomas Dickerson, and Sgt. Greg Shafer said they had run to the aid of a screaming woman while the tornado winds continued to blow. Clearly injured herself, with cuts on her face and a tooth puncturing her lip, the woman told them she couldn’t find her baby. The Marines began to root through a home that had been reduced to boards, finally lifting a wall to find the toddler underneath.Although Hurricanes are a common hazard in the Carolinas and smaller tornadoes aren't completely unheard of, it's unusual for a storm to spawn this many funnels outside of tornado alley in the midwest.
“The baby was blue,” Shafer said. “I lifted that wall up, and we brought him in the back door of (Dickerson’s house) and laid him on the floor.”
The men said one of the other heroes of the day had been a Navy medical officer who appeared seemingly from nowhere, administered CPR and kept the baby alive until officials from the appear Provost Marshal’s Office could arrive.
The man, Lt. J.G. Jonathan Hamrick, a Navy critical care nurse, told The Daily News via email he lived in a home nearby and had operated on adrenaline, rushing to the aid of the distraught mother.