By The Raleigh Telegram
RALEIGH – One year after a devastating tornadoes and the storm that spawned it swept through downtown Raleigh, there are many parts of the city that are just now getting back to normal.
The deadly tornadoes came through in the middle of the night on Saturday, April 16th and Sunday April 17th of 2011, hitting several areas in downtown Raleigh including neighborhoods off of Saunders Street, Shaw University, the Oakwood neighborhood, and other areas in the city.
One tornado hit the Stony Brook mobile home park near Trawick Road, killing three young children who were taking refuge in a trailer at the park. Overall, at least 14 people in Wake and Bertie Counties died in the storms.
The effects on downtown Raleigh were immediately felt. Shaw University had to cancel classes for the rest of the semester after the storm, several city cemeteries were closed, homes were devastated, businesses were closed, streets were blocked by downed trees and power lines, and the power was out in many areas.
One year later, much of the devastation is now a faded memory, but it’s apparent that some areas have still been undergoing efforts to clean up, even recently.
Several cemeteries in the city’s center were being worked on even as late as a few weeks ago. After dozens of large oak trees fell and damaged wrought iron fences, headstones, cobblestone sidewalks, and other parts of several cemeteries, the city signed a contract with ArborMax in November of last year for $190,000 to clean up the mess.
The O’Rourke-Catholic Cemetery and Mt. Hope Cemetery in Raleigh were finally opened in January of this year. The larger and historically significant City Cemetery opened up weeks later. The City Cemetery, which date back to 1798 and contains the remains of former governors, politicians, Revolutionary and Civil War leaders, local slaves, and other historic figures, received a lot of damage as large oak trees fell to the ground, damaging headstones, crypts, and stone monuments at the facility.
In the neighborhoods off of Saunders Street heading away from downtown Raleigh towards Interstate 40, some damage can still be seen as some businesses and homeowners chose not to rebuild from the damage. There are several homes in the area that have not been repaired after the tornadoes came through. The City of Raleigh is reportedly moving forward with condemnation proceedings to have the homes bulldozed at the owner’s cost to restore the neighborhoods to normal.
Although the tornado was certainly tragic and resulted in a loss of life and disruptions for dozens of families who lost their homes or businesses, with the storm’s intensity, Raleigh’s density in the downtown area, and the fact that the storm came through at night after many people had gone to sleep, many have said that Raleigh was lucky that many more people did not lose their lives in the aftermath of the storm. ::
PHOTOS: The City Cemetery today stills shows signs of damage as large dirt spots mark where large oak trees used to be located, wrought iron fences still have not been repaired, and many monuments were damaged or knocked over by falling trees. Photos: The Telegram.
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE STORM OF 2011:
–Fund Started For Families Of Three Children Who Died In Raleigh Tornado
–PHOTOS, VIDEO: Tornados Devastate Several Raleigh Neighborhoods, Kill At Least Three
–Shaw University Shuts Down For Semester After Tornado
–Much Of Raleigh Still Without Electric Power
–Remembering North Carolina’s Most Powerful Tornado In 1998
Article Posted: Sunday, April 22nd, 2012.