Community comes together to support those hit by deadly tornado

Community comes together to help tornado victims clean up aftermath

OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - Devastation doesn’t even begin to describe what residents are feeling after a tornado destroyed nearly everything in its pass.

At Ocean Ridge Plantation, community members mourn the loss of not only their homes but in some cases their loved ones.

“They are devastated,” said HOA president Donna Ciliberti. “It would be as if you lost your home or your loved ones. This is just one of those times in your lives when you’re in shock and you have to figure out how to move on.”

The community grapples with the loss of three neighbors on top of the already heartbreaking loss of the places they called home.

Volunteers from the River of Life Church, NC Baptist Men and Brunswick Christian Recovery Center were at Ground Zero on Wednesday to pick up the pieces for those hit hardest by the storm.

“We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ,” said volunteer Craig Moore. “I’m just doing what I was commanded to do.”

A spokesperson with the Brunswick Christian Recovery Center said they gathered their tools and manpower to help clean up debris in the Ocean Ridge Community.

“Helping our community is the right thing to do. Many families from the Ocean Ridge Community put a lot of time and resources in our program, so the least we can do is give our time and resources back.”

In the process, residents and volunteers found items such as sentimental letters, devotionals and prayer books.

“[We found] some New York fire department and nursing things here,” said Crystal O’Connell, a neighbor of one of those hit hardest. In the wreckage of a home, she and other volunteers found a number of necklaces and military medals. “This is their things and I think they need this to remember their dad and their mom is going to be out of the hospital, hopefully soon.”

In cases like these the smallest find can bring the greatest comfort, and a little bit of hope and happiness is just what this community needs.

All three deaths from Monday night happened in the Ocean Ridge Plantation neighborhood, but neighbors, organizations and businesses make sure they know they aren’t alone during this difficult time.

Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.