A man named Tim drove me around Piedmont yesterday. We followed the path of the May tornado from east to west by northwest. It was humbling to see the destruction, even two months later.
It was more humbling to hear the story of goodwill from members of the community after the storm. The tornado didn’t just lay waste to lives and homes. It raked across the countryside like an errant plowshare and buried small town politics. If only temporarily.
Earlier this week I surveyed some of the damage alone. The day before I went out there my cousin told me it looked like a scene from “Apocalypse Now,” but I didn’t really believe him.
Some homes were leveled. Many looked like chewed up shoeboxes. One reminded me of a grand piano, with chunks of wall missing and its roof splayed upward like a propped lid. But it wasn’t grand and the only music I could hear was the overbearing wind pushing a storm eastward just south of me.
Three guys were cleaning up the remnants of a home less than a quarter-mile away. They were busting up the foundation with a jackhammer. The driver of the Bobcat would hit the throttle – dumping pressure through the hydraulic lines like adrenaline in the bloodstream – and slam the metal spike into the concrete in rapid bursts. It was destruction razing destruction so that someone can rebuild.
Some residents don’t plan to rebuild.
Tim said construction of one house was completed shortly before the tornado wiped it out.
He told me a story of homeowners who had been fighting with their insurance company for months before the storm. They were uninsured and lost everything.
One house had just been rebuilt from a fire not long before it was demolished by the tornado.
Another house has already been repaired and sold.
Some homes had been relatively new and others had been there for 30 years. One had 12 windows busted out but was otherwise untouched. Others were reduced to twisted metal and piles of bricks and wood scattered across the ground.
The drone of the Bobcat motor and the “pop-pop-pop” of the jackhammer combined with the debris and destruction gave the former neighborhood the semblance of a warzone.
My cousin was right.
This is some of the footage I shot. I will have more video with my story. The structure in the third image used to be a three story house. Check out the last scene of the storm shelter and the storm in the background, there used to be multiple trees and houses behind the now-vacant foundation.