Volunteers, businesses honored for helping after deadly Brunswick County tornado

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — It’s been more than four months since a deadly tornado ripped through southern Brunswick County, and those who helped with the recovery effort are now being recognized.

On February 15, an EF-3 tornado damaged and destroyed dozens of homes in and near the Ocean Ridge Plantation Community. Three people died and at least 10 others were injured.

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HOA President Donna Ciliberto says many homeowners still have a long way to recovery.

“We had over 70 homes that were tragically impacted and that’s a big number in any neighborhood. So we were glad for all the help because we needed it,” Ciliberto said.

On Monday, the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners held a ceremony recognizing first responders, volunteer groups, and businesses that contributed to recovery efforts.

One of those groups was the Cape Fear chapter of the American Red Cross, led by James Jarvis.

“I would just like to thank our volunteers that did such great work,” Jarvis said. “I got the call at 4:30 in the morning. By 7:30 in the morning, we had a family reception center stood up and so that’s people answering their phones in the middle of the night and coming to help when needed.”

Maggy Schlink, president of the Ocean Ridge Charities Association, typically organizes fundraisers for others in need. After the tornado, she found herself collecting donations for her own neighbors.

“It was very difficult, very difficult for a lot of our people to come and even ask for help,” Schlink said.

Speaking on behalf of the Ocean Ridge community, Ciliberto says saying ‘thank you’ just doesn’t feel like enough.

“We hope that when the time comes, we will be just as ready to be there and help as others were for us,” she said.

Ciliberto says it could be a year or longer before some can rebuild their homes. The Ocean Ridge Charities Association is now working to help those in surrounding communities who also suffered damage.