Thirty years ago Friday night the worst tornado outbreak ever to hit the Carolinas slammed into our area.
Forty-two people in North Carolina died that March night back in 1984. Nine of those perished in Pitt County, six in both Greene and Bertie counties, and one in Lenoir County.
One of the hardest hit areas was east of Greenville, served by the Eastern Pines Fire Department.
Lyman Hardee was Eastern Pines fire chief. "First thing I found was my brother in law, he was laying in the road in front of my house, and he was real bad off. He didn't make it," said Hardee.
Albert Paramore was one of two people killed along Portertown Road. The former fire chief says his sister-in-law was severely injured. "The mobile home that they were in they never found," said Hardee. "It was completely gone, it vanished."
It is estimated the winds there were between 210 and 261 miles per hour.
Evonne Boyd and her husband were inside with their two children when the tornado hit, and their home was also destroyed. "Horrible noises, not just like someone had closed a door," said Boyd. "And you were very afraid for the safety of you and your family, and it was a terrifying..it was a terrifying night."
Boyd says even today when they see dark clouds or hear of tornado watches they take them very, very seriously. "That storm changed our lives forever, says Boyd. "Even though we came back to the area and rebuilt, we still have such an awareness of bad weather."
Hardee says he and his assistant fire chief have a ritual every March 28th. "Every year either he calls me or I call him on that day. We've been doing it for the last 30 years. So, you never forget. You never forget."
The former chief says Michael House, who was just 15 years old, was also killed on Portertown Road that night. In all, five people lost their lives in the Eastern Pines service area on March 28, 1984.