One week since deadly tornado struck Brunswick County, community continues to rebuild

BRUNSWICK COUNT, NC (WWAY) — It’s been a week since a twister ripped through Brunswick County, and recovery efforts are still ongoing. Neighbors in the community are sharing their stories from the night an EF-3 tornado ripped through their neighborhood, killing three people and injuring ten.

“One minute after I woke up, it all happened,” 11-year-old Julissa Lujano said. Her family’s home was damaged by the tornado.

“My mom and dad were like yelling ‘everyone go to the bathroom, everyone go to the bathroom’ to be safe,” Lujano said.

Some are making significant progress with cleanup efforts, like Mike Dispirito. We first met Dispirito less than 24 hours after the storm. The tornado sent trees crashing into his home, including the bedroom where is grandson and daughter had been sleeping minutes before. “I had fifteen guys that worked with me on Friday even though it was raining, they came out here.” says Dispirito. “They cut all these trees up in the front, they cut all a bunch of trees up in the back, pouring down rain. How do you repay that?”

For the third time since the storm, the Beach Happy Market in Ocean Isle Beach spent the afternoon handing out more than 120 lunches. Tammy Blanton, the owner of Beach Happy Market is grateful for the amount of community outreach they’ve seen. “We have received donations now of approximately $7,000 and it’s still coming in.” The donations allow them to provide food, gift cards, and cash to those affected, like the Lujano and Dispirito families.

“There’s just a lot of people to thank,” says Dispirito. “A lot of organizations come together to help people like myself, and the only thing I can do is just pay it forward someday.”

On Tuesday, the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners made a decision on debris removal. The North Carolina Department of Transportation will handle vegetative debris, and the county will handle construction and demolition debris. When commenting on the timeline for the cleanup, Commission Chair Randy Thompson says that they’re still working on the dates. “We don’t have those dates yet because we’re still waiting for the final coordination with DOT. Once we have that then the county will release those dates. Once the cleanup starts, it’s probably going to go on for several weeks.” Thompson estimates the cost to the county for the debris removal will be minimal.

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