YADKIN COUNTY, N.C. -- Thursday marks one year since a tornado ripped through Davie, Yadkin and Stokes counties. Today, some people are still left picking up what once stood tall.
“I think we were all lucky,” said Nell Gross, whose neighborhood was heavily damaged during the storm.
The National Weather Service confirmed that on May 24, 2017, an EF-2 tornado touched down in all three counties. The maximum wind speed of the tornado was estimated at 125 mph.
“Next thing I knew it was wind blowing like crazy and mud hitting the side of the house,” Gross said. “The bed from the back bedroom slid up against the wall, the back door flew open.”
The tornado heavily damaged neighborhoods, like Gross’, which is on Baity Road, a short distance from Courtney Elementary School.
“Sounded like a freight train coming through here,” said Travis Hutchens, Gross’ neighbor.
The tornado destroyed the Courtney Elementary gym and caused damage to other buildings on the campus.
“Trash and debris was strewn across the entire campus, so it was a mess,” Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Todd Martin said.
Martin says it took nine months from when the tornado hit to when ground was broken on the new gym.
“I didn’t realize it would take quite the time that it has taken,” he added.
People living on Baity Road said it took four to six months to return to normality, although they’re still recovering.
“It takes time to heal, replace,” said Junior Hutchens, also of the Baity Road community.
Junior Hutchens said the tornado caused as much as $60,000 of damage to his properties.
“In Greensboro, it is a lot worse than what it is here,” Gross said.
The recovery for last year’s tornado shows what people impacted by the tornado that touched down in Greensboro and Rockingham counties on April 15 will contend with in coming months.
“It’s gonna take up to five to six months to get everything cleaned up,” Travis Hutchens said.
“I would just encourage them, it is a process that they’re going to have to work through,” Martin said, when asked what advice he would have for Guilford County Schools employees, parents and students. “So, I encourage them to be patient.”
Martin says construction on the new Courtney Elementary gym is expected to be completed by Oct. 29, 2018.