Two months after tornadoes, Bladen clean-up continues


BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Two months ago strong storms left behind a trail of debris in Bladen County. Four people died across the county in the storms.

The tornadoes left plenty of damage as well as businesses and families left picking up the pieces of their lives. Today we went back to see how the clean-up is going.

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Broken tree limbs, damaged roofs and broken windows are evidence of a strong storm still in Elizabethtown.

“It came across the bypass and basically came down Cromartie Road and came right through the church here. Went right across the pond here and right across the river,” Alex Hair said looking at the damage that remains.

Hair, a carpenter, has been a busy man since the night of April 16. He’s been cleaning up debris and rebuilding homes that were damaged in the few minutes of the storm.

“Mostly roof damage. There were some structural damage, but most of the damage right here was roof damage except of course on the church. The church probably sustained the most damage of everything around,” Hair said.

Though damaged and in need of repair, Elizabethtown Baptist Church is going strong. Their gym has turned into an all purpose center where Sunday school, dinners, and worship services are now held.

“I would say that all of us were a bit shocked when we found out the devastations that had occurred,” Rev. Chris Carroll said. “There are a lot of things that can’t be seen with the visible eye that will need to be repaired. For a moment we experienced shock, we experienced sadness, we recognize this is a rebuilding effort.”

Carroll says the church has recently received some bad news from structural engineers. Most of the walls of this building will have to be knocked down before the building is rebuilt.

Carroll says despite the situation his church has come together and will make it though this challenge.

“I’m excited about the future, where we’re going,” he said. “While the buildings look damaged right now, in just a little while they’ll be restored and people will be thankful and excited to come back and use these building for what they’re created to be used for, which is ministry.”

Carroll expects the full recovery of the church to take about another year and a half.

Also, Monday is the deadline to apply for help from FEMA if your home or business was damaged in the April 16 storms.