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Wake County Tallies Cost of Storm

Shaw University's historic marker propped on the ground after storm.
Leoneda Inge

  Clean-up crews and emergency management teams are working over-time in a 20 county area of the state.  This is where most of the damage occurred after those deadly and destructive tornadoes over the weekend.

In Wake County – officials are already beginning to put a price tag on the cost of the damage. 

 If there’s one thing everybody CAN agree on – the storm and its aftermath is bad.

Charles Meeker:  "The path of the storm was fairly narrow, but very destructive along that path."
Beverly Fields Burnett:  "I was amazed, I had no idea."
Maj. JC Perry:  "We went up to the mobile home where the children were killed, it’s really bad."
Athena Curry:  "We were scared, we were very scared because none of us has been through this before."

Paul Coble is chairman of the Wake County Commission.

Paul Coble:  "Today people are starting to recover and pull things off and uncover things that have been covered up by the damage but, if you just ride across the path of the tornado, the devastation is really, really bad."

And that means the clean-up is going to cost a lot of money.  State and federal officials are still trying to put a price tag on the damage and what it will cost to get schools, businesses and homes re-built.  But Coble says their early numbers show Wake County has suffered damage between 65 and 100-million dollars.  And he says some of the destruction is hidden - like at the main fire station in Holly Springs.

Coble:  "If you stand on the outside of the fire station it looks like there’s nothing really wrong with it.  But you walk inside and you look up, and the roof has come apart and you can look up and see all the struts and structure has been torn up, all the wiring.  It really does look like the tornado just stopped, reached out, picked the roof up and slammed it right back on top of the building.  It’s incredible."

In northeast Raleigh – officials say half the homes at the Stony Brook Mobile Home Park will likely be lost to the deadly storm.  That’s also where three small children died.  A fourth child from that neighborhood remains in critical condition.

Several businesses along South Saunders Street are also now confronted with the task of figuring out how to rebuild and so is Shaw University.

President Irma McClaurin says they are in the early stages of assessing their damage.

Irma McClaurin:  "We just had our insurance adjuster on site yesterday, they will make their assessment. We will probably get an independent adjuster to also look at it so we will have comparison.  But we just have no way of knowing.  We haven’t had anything of this magnitude affect this campus."

In the meantime – students are packing up their belongings to head home early.  Shaw has cancelled the last few weeks of the semester.  Several large trees are down, a girl’s dormitory is full of shattered glass and the cafeteria and student center has what some students are calling a “sun roof top.”

Hundreds of students have been taking their meals, then, in the school’s gym – like Shaw Bears football player Lamar James.

Lamar James: "Uh, we got cold-cuts, chips, cookies, apples, fruit. "
Inge:  "Milk, yogurt. "
James:  "Milk, yogurt, all types of things. "
Inge:  "All the things a big football player needs. "
James:  "We usually eat in the caf at this time, but that’s gone. (laugh)"

The sophomore from Cleveland, Ohio says he wishes he had more time to turn in some last minute assignments but he’s confident all will work out for the school.

James:  "Well, I’ll be back in the summer because I play football.  I’m confident, Shaw will return, probably better than it was before. Because Shaw, we are always known for not having a lot but doing a lot with a little. You know what I’m saying.  It’s a tragedy but I think we will overcome it and be a better place."

Earlier today, the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted to set aside one-million dollars to help with emergency response to the storm.  

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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