Tornado pulls community together

Published 9:13 pm Thursday, April 17, 2014

BELHAVEN — On April 7, an EF-2 tornado may have ripped apart the homes and lives of several Beaufort County residents, but since then, it’s pulled a community together.

Saturday, hundreds of people are expected to attend a fundraiser in Belhaven for the tornado victims. Featuring a silent auction, live auction, games, live musical performances, antique car show, food and more, the event is an example of a community taking care of its own, when in need.

“We all know each other,” said Samantha Selby, one of the organizers of the event. “Our main goal is to get the people who lost all their stuff — to try to get them back into something as quick as we can.”

According to Selby, Ponzer residents Bud and Cathy Clayton’s home was moved two feet off its foundation, their barn destroyed; William Russ lost part of his shop; Mark and Carla Van Essendelft and their six children lost everything in the tornado that ripped through eastern Beaufort County. Now their friends and neighbors plan to lend a helping hand by raising money for their recovery.

The event, to be held at Robert Lilley’s High Tech Repair on U.S. Highway 264 East, is set to begin at noon and run until 7 p.m. Barbecue and chicken plates will be sold throughout the day: $8 for adults, $5 for a chicken tender dinner for children.

Selby said the idea for the fundraiser started small but quickly gained momentum as more and more people wanted to help. Double Portion and Don Cox will be providing musical entertainment, while Keyzer’s Catering is donating the meal, with the help of another donor, who pitched in all the pigs to be barbecued. The auctions, both live and silent, and the yard sale will feature an array of items big and small: cakes, furniture, Caterpillar collector’s toys, auto supplies, gift certificates for restaurants, pedicures — one person in Gates County has even donated a tractor-trailer truckload of lumber for the auction.

“It’s really getting to be overwhelming at this point,” Selby said, in reference to the outpouring of support, and items, for the fundraiser.

Selby, who works with Keyzer’s Catering, said they are expecting to feed between 500 and 700 people on Saturday.

“Please, everybody come out — it’s going to be family-oriented event just to help get these people’s lives back together, any way we can,” Selby said.

Saturday’s fundraiser will be held at High Tech Repair, 28759 U.S. Highway 264 East, Belhaven.