RVers survive tornado, but not until after big scare

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Our staff has been digging through our archives for articles that disappeared from our server for one reason or another. We’re gradually re-posting some that remain relevant and deserve to be read again. We originally published this letter to the editor in June, 2011. It was from RVtravel.com reader Coralee Kulman who reported on her experience during a North Carolina tornado the day before. Luckily, she and her husband were not hurt, but they went through a very harrowing situation. She wrote:

Tornado
File photo.

W

e have a All Hazards Radio. We bought it before travel in tornado and hurricane areas. It was very accurate and when the tornadoes hit the Raleigh, NC area, it told us when it was time to get out of our motorhome. Here is our story.

Yesterday, we spent 10-15 minutes in the men restroom of the Four Oaks NC (south of Raleigh NC) town hall while dime-sized and a few golf ball-sized hail plummeted us. Not our idea of a fun afternoon in our adventure of a lifetime.

About 30 minutes before our bathroom experience, the RV park owner came to warn us to watch the weather. We turned on the local cable television and sure enough there was a wide front the length of South Carolina, North Carolina and into Virginia that had purple (tornado potential) cells in it. I called 911 and asked where we could go since we were in a motorhome. They suggested the Four Oaks Fire Department or EMS building.

We started putting things away and brought in the motorhome slides just in case. I put our backup drive, our medications, my kindle — who knows how long we would be holed up — in my carrying case. We turned off all the electrical appliances and air conditioner. We were ready to leave if things got worse. They did.

OUR FIRST ALERT RADIO and been real active for the last few hours — it was now about 4:20 pm. Then came the announcement that the following areas needed to take cover and Four Oaks was one of them. So off we went not real sure where the fire department was. However, Four Oaks is a very small town so we thought we could find it. We saw a police officer driving in the police car. We followed her into the parking lot and asked where we could go. “Here,” she said. So we went in and she told us if the tornado hit we should head for the men’s bathroom. In the meantime, we watched the police department television. They predicted the tornados would hit at 4:38 p.m.

Sure enough around 4:38, we looked out the front windows and it had started to hail. First it was dime-sized, then it was a few almost golf ball-size. Then a few huge pieces. Then a couple with a teenager came — they lived in a mobile home and decided not to stay. The officer was standing at the back door and actually saw the tornado and said it was time to head for the men’s restroom. Thank God we were in the restroom. I had to pee! Then the lights went out.

Well, it did not hit us and it was over in a few moments. We were told by Police Officer Holly it had moved on. We just have a few minor dents in the car and if anything dented on the motorhome it did not show and who cares if the roof got dented.

They figure we had 62 tornadoes in North Carolina that day. There were nine that hit in our area alone. One did hit a KOA RV park a less than a half a mile from us and decimated a bunch of RVs. Whew! That is as close as I ever want to be to a tornado.

There’s a Lowe’s in Sanford, about 45 miles from us, where 100 people were saved by a quick thinking manager and employees who moved them to the back of the building. We saw parts of this Lowe’s building miles away. It was surreal.

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norman fears
1 year ago

last tuesday august 20th. which also happens to be my birthday. our brand new 5th wheel sitting in the driveway. packed up for up coming camping trip. we had a f3 tornado come threw. it tossed a tree on our new 5th wheel. caved in the roof. as if the tornado was not bad enough now the fight is on with the insurance company. nobody was hurt.

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RV Staff (@rvstaff)
1 year ago
Reply to  norman fears

Wow, Norman. Happy Birthday, huh?! Sorry to hear about your new 5th wheel. I hope you can get everything worked out with the insurance, get it fixed, and get on the road. Good luck! Happy belated Birthday! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com