Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of a devastating F4 tornado that twisted through southeastern North Carolina. The tornado came from the southwest right up the railroad track through the center of town. The Red Springs tornado was deadly and destructive; it also came with little warning. George Paris was the mayor of Red Springs 25 years ago, and he's still the mayor today. "It was pretty apparent I need to call for help so I called for assistance from the state and they sent the National Guard in to secure the downtown,” Paris explained. Looting and vandalism became an issue, as the town was wide open, lying on its back. "It looked like a war zone, it looked like we'd been bombed and the worst damage was downtown,” said Red Springs Citizen staff writer Terry Powers. "The first area it hit was the west side of town. It came on up through the Peterson School," said Fran Ray of the Red Springs Chamber of Commerce. The Peterson Elementary School was literally ripped apart; fortunately school was not in session. Like so many buildings in the town, the Peterson School was rebuilt. The mayor's game plan was simple; if it was destroyed, it was re-built, and there was plenty of damage to repair. Power lines lined the streets of Red Springs. Hundreds of large fallen oak trees made the town one big obstacle course. The Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross was instrumental in helping the people of Red Springs get back on their feet. "I can't think people enough for what they did on the volunteer side because they came from everywhere,” said Mayor Paris. If there is a shining moment to come out from this disaster Red Springs, and its population of 4,000, became a stronger community. "One thing the tornado did was it woke people up and made us realize the importance of life and how important it is to work together,” said Fran Ray.
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