“I thought this was it, we’re dying”: Ocean Ridge Plantation residents describe tornado experience

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OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Following Gov. Roy Cooper’s visit to the devastated Ocean Ridge Plantation neighborhood, some residents are sharing what they experienced during the tornado Monday night.

Residents Bruce and Dee Stolba surveyed the community-wide damage for the first time on Wednesday, still shaken up by the ordeal.

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“I really don’t want to see too much damage because it’s just too depressing,” Dee Stolba said.

The two were in bed Monday night when the unexpected storm came barreling through Brunswick County.

“I heard what I thought was hail, you know hail stones,” Dee Stolba said. “Then the hail turned into rocks, like people were throwing rocks at the house.”

As the tornado got closer and closer, the Stolbas say the sound was unmistakable.

“I have seen people on television talking about the tornado they went through, and said it sounds like a train,” Dee Stolba said. “Honest to God, I put the pillow over my face because I thought this was it, we’re dying.”

They say the next few moments were terrifying.

“I could have sworn our house was being lifted,” Bruce Stolba said.

“You know how a dog shakes his fur to get rid of the rain or the wet?” asked Dee Stolba. “I feel like the house was lifted a little and shook.”

Ocean Ridge Plantation HOA President Donna Ciliberto says at least 50 homes in the neighborhood are damaged or completely destroyed.

“They’ve lost their homes, many people have lost their homes,” Ciliberto said. “A good majority of the 50 have lost their homes.”

Ciliberto is hoping the state and federal government will provide more resources in the coming days.

“We need a little more attention, we need them to bring in the National Guard, we’d like FEMA here to really make a difference for them right now,” she said.

As homeowners, workers, and volunteers dig through piles of debris, many like the Stolbas are thankful to be alive and well.

“We’re fortunate. We’re alive and that’s all that matters.”