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Remembering the deadly tornados of 1984

By Jamie Hicks
Published On: Mar 28 2013 06:53:03 PM CDT
EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA -

The most destructive tornado outbreak in North Carolina’s recorded history happened 29 years ago on Thursday.

On March 28th, 1984, 42 people died and more than a thousand were injured as the storm crossed through Eastern North Carolina. The storm went through our area in just four hours, wreaking havoc on anything in its path.

Pitt County's Director of Emergency Management Noel Lee, was a volunteer firefighter at Clarks Neck Fire Department during that time.

"I mean it was just total destruction, like something I’ve never seen before in my life," said Lee

He said it started out as a normal day. His first call that night was a car accident.

"We actually ran into the path of the tornado, the tornado had crossed but the accident we were responding to was actually a vehicle that was picked up and thrown by the tornado," said Lee.

Our own Chief Meteorologist Skip Waters said in his 36 years as a meteorologist this outbreak hits number one.

"It was so big it actually sucked itself up and reformed up to five or six times as it went across our area," said Skip.

The strongest part of the storm front began moving across Eastern North Carolina after dark.

Lee said not being able to see the damage made it worse.

"Here's a flash of lightening, that mobile home that was there is not there now, did i really just see that,?” He said.

"It was just unreal even for a meteorologist. You know the power and you know the science of a tornado but you never think it will happen where you live," said Skip.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seven of the twisters were "F4, five were F3 and seven were F2.

A total of 24 tornados were recorded.