Tornado Victims Pick Up The Pieces

Nekesha Yeoman (R) holds hands with Darryl McNair as they search through the remains of homes the day after a tornado touched down November 17, 2006 in Riegelwood, North Carolina. At least eight people are believed to have died in Columbus County, North Carolina in the storm. (Photo by Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images) Getty Images

People displaced by a devastating tornado that killed eight and sent at least a dozen others to hospitals returned Friday to their ravaged community as damage assessment teams came to help them so they could start cleaning up.

Four people remained in "very, very critical condition," Gov. Mike Easley said during a visit to the region.

The storm ripped through a cluster of trailers and an adjacent neighborhood of brick houses early Thursday morning in Riegelwood, where there are no tornado warning sirens. Officials closed the neighborhood overnight to prevent looting.

"Most of them didn't get the information. The biggest warning they got — they heard that train-like sound," Easley told CBS Early Show. "A lot of them did take cover in the center of the modular homes and it saved a lot of them, we think."

Darryl McNair said he was sleeping when the tornado picked up his mobile home and moved it 50 feet from its foundation.

"I heard a loud crash," McNair, 34, said during a break from picking through rubble. "I was in the bed. You could feel the house moving. I was in shock."

On Friday, he remained shaken.

"My whole life was in that house," he said, crying. "Everything that was me was in that house. How could you lose everything in so short a time? I struggled to get that stuff and now it's all out in the road like it was nothing."

McNair's home landed across the street in the front yard of Charles Faulk, who said the winds only appeared to have damaged his air conditioner and pulled a small deck from him home.

"I'm more than lucky. I'm blessed," said Faulk, 47. "This is the first time I've seen devastation like this. And I never want to see it again. It's hit home and it's real. We're all survivors. And we have to move on, pick up and keep going."
  • Sean Alfano

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