Brunswick County tornado is 'one of the worst ones' in recent years, Red Cross says
The Red Cross has been working to help those in the aftermath of a deadly tornado in Brunswick County.
The tornado hit overnight and is confirmed to have caused three deaths and left 10 people injured.
The Red Cross began sending help to the area just after 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, said James Jarvis, the executive director of the American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina.
The organization wanted to have people on the ground to help residents displaced by the tornado and to support the approximately 150 first responders who arrived on the scene, Jarvis said.
Tornadoes are not new to Brunswick County. The area saw several tornadoes spin off Hurricane Isaias last year, but those storms didn't cause substantial damage.
“In terms of a tornado response, it’s probably going to be one of the worst ones in Brunswick County in a number of years,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis and other representatives from the Red Cross have been in contact with the county's emergency services department to remain up to date on the tornado's toll on the area. Jarvis confirmed reports that three people have died, 10 are injured and at least 50 homes have been damaged.
Search and rescue in the Ocean Ridge Plantation neighborhood is ongoing in areas that saw the most damage, Jarvis said.
“Obviously, when you have a situation like that, you don’t know who was home and who was on vacation,” he added.
Jarvis said he also has heard reports that the damage may extend beyond the Ocean Ridge Plantation area.
Because the tornado hit the area late at night, there was an increased chance that people were at home or could be sleeping during the storm.
“Severe storms can happen at any time of day," he said. "When they do happen at night, that does generally mean more people are at home.”
While the area has become accustomed to dealing with hurricanes, tornadoes must be approached differently because they can happen so quickly.
“With a hurricane, you’ve got lots of warning," Jarvis said. "With a tornado, there’s typically very little if any warning.”
Red Cross provides aid, shelter for tornado victims
Jarvis recommended downloading the Red Cross Emergency app, which provides emergency alerts for storms, including tornadoes and other significant weather events.
Representatives from the Red Cross are meeting with displaced residents at the Beach Assembly of God church in Ocean Isle Beach.
A damage assessment of the neighborhood is ongoing to determine the level of support the community needs from the Red Cross, Jarvis said.
Those who need help or shelter are asked to call Brunswick County Emergency Services at 910-253-5383.
For those looking to help, Jarvis suggested supporting the recovery effort by making a financial donation to the Red Cross.
The needs will become more apparent as they work through the details of each case, Jarvis said.
"We're still very early in the process, so we're trying to sort out what the needs are of the impacted families," Jarvis said.
The Ocean Ridge Plantation's board of directors for the homeowner's association created a GoFundMe to help with relief for those impacted by the tornado. To donate, visit the Ocean Ridge Plantation Tornado Relief Fund.