Debris gone but wounds remain from York Co. tornado

Debris gone but wounds remain from York Co. tornado


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 26 at 7:12 AM

YORK COUNTY, N.C. -- Victims of last year’s tornado in York County say life is getting back to normal, but some wounds remain.

This year, the plan is to have Thanksgiving dinner in their own homes.  That’s something that didn’t happen for several people, after the EF-2 tornado destroyed a handful of homes on November 16.

Three neighbors died from tornado-related injuries.

"It's been a long year,” said tornado victim Ty McCollum while showing his house.

McCollum remembers the date like it just happened.  He was inside his house that night watching the news about a tornado warning.

"They said it was a tornado coming up Williamson Road.  I walked outside and there it was, coming,” McCollum said.

He ran inside and threw his mom in the tub. Seconds later, two trees crushed his roof.

It took six months before McCollum and his mother returned home. He was constantly nervous and worriness became a way of life.

"It tore my head up,” McCollum said.

He lived in a camper until insurance money and repair crews replaced the roof and house interior. The interior still smells like fresh paint.

"It hasn’t been lived in long,” McCollum said.

Most of the destruction has been cleaned up. A year later, there are still reminders, like a blanket stuck in a tree.

Looking at a bull in the field next to McCollum’s house is another reminder.  He says the tornado impaled a piece of wood into the bull and he watched it walk around until the owner had a veterinarian remove it.

Neighbors still aren't exactly used to seeing open fields where barns and homes stood and knowing three neighbors killed by the tornado no longer drive up and down the street and say hi.

"I knew all of them,” said tornado victim Stanley Gamble.

He lost part of his roof, which has since been replaced.  Gamble hoped a year later the area around Williamson Road and Highway 324 in York County would have a warning siren.

"I thought they could put one in this area, but there's not one and I don't know why,” he said.

York County Emergency Management looked into it but doesn't think sirens are cost effective.

It would take about $20 million to install about 16 sirens in that corner of York County, plus about $2 million a year for maintenance and upkeep.

Emergency Management Director Cotton Howell says they found everyone knew about the tornado warning through radio or television and warning sirens would just point them to a television or radio, since the sirens just create noise.