‘Not forgotten:’ Ocean Ridge neighbors remember deadly EF-3 tornado, COVID cancels commemorative service

Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 6:44 PM EST
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OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - The downed trees and loose debris have been picked up, but a year later, windows are still boarded up in Ocean Ridge, and the scars remain from the deadly tornado.

“We have friends and neighbors who are still suffering. We have friends who still aren’t in their homes yet because of construction material shortages and things like that, and just the damage to the homes. I think there’s five or six that are completely back to just patches of earth,” said Maggy Schlink of the Ocean Ridge Charities Association.

A nearby church planned a service of remembrance but made the decision to cancel it in light of the spread of COVID-19.

In lieu of the formal gathering, leaders have shared letters of support with the residents and are asking people to observe a moment of silence at noon Tuesday to pray for the community and remember the lives changed by the EF-3.

Despite there not being a formal event to mark the anniversary Tuesday, supporting their neighbors has been an ongoing project for the residents of Brunswick County.

More than 200 people showed up to a candle light vigil to sing, pray and show support for the families impacted by the tornado on the three month anniversary back in May.

Over the last year, most of the resident’s physical and monetary needs have been met. The Ocean Ridge Charities Association raised over $140,000 to help neighbors both inside and outside of their gates cover some of their expenses.

The organization has also worked with the Social Activities Committee to host lunches for the families impacted, provide counseling and host events to raise money to build out a memorial fund for the three people killed in the twister.

The Road Rally fundraiser in June helped Ocean Ridge leaders collect $2,000 to install a permanent tribute to the victims and survivors of the tornado.

Two 434 pound stone memorial benches are expected to be delivered this summer. The Campania Provencal benches will also have bronze plaques on them in memory of Barry Glick and Phyllis and Rich O’Connor.

“They’re both in very tranquil spots and I think it’ll be something that makes Barry Glick and Rich and Phyllis O’Connor smile… because they’re gone but as you can tell, they’re not forgotten,” said Social Activities Chair Donna Wald.

The loss of their three neighbors is still fresh but the residents instead have leaned on one another, and choose to appreciate the kindness shown to them over the last year

“This is a story about love, about people even total strangers come together at a time of need to help each other,” said Wald. “People being kind to people they don’t even know. People came from outside our community and they couldn’t do enough for us. Our community was filled with angels who are walking amongst us.”

“I think it’s also story of resilience and the fact that we can’t control the things that happen in our lives the only thing we can control is how we react to it, and our reaction was the best it could’ve been. There were people who had damage who were out on the street trying to help others,” echoed Schlink.

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