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This day in history: Deadly EF-4 tornado rips through Raleigh, killing 4

Posted November 28, 2022 8:44 a.m. EST

This day in history: Deadly EF-4 tornado rips through Raleigh, killing 4

— On Nov. 28, 1988, a deadly EF-4 tornado ripped through Raleigh.

It has been 34 years since the tornado touched down around 1 a.m. near Umstead State Park and Ebenezer Church Road, flattening a Kmart and destroying Asbury United Methodist Church. No severe thunderstorm or tornado watches or warnings had been issued for Wake County.

The tornado remained on the ground for more than 80 miles, leaving destruction in several counties, including Wake, Franklin and Nash. The most intense damage occurred over northwestern Raleigh where the tornado traveled through densely populated areas near major intersections.

Four people were killed and more than 150 others were hurt.

WRAL News anchor Charlie Gaddy went live that night from the Glenwood Avenue Kmart, which the twister had leveled.

"The Townridge Shopping Center is built in a V or an L (shape) and half of it is gone. That means that the Kmart has been demolished and several business adjacent to it,” Gaddy said during his first report from the scene.

The Pridgen family lived behind the Kmart.

"If you walked in, we had a roof in (one) room and behind it a pile of bricks from the chimney. The room we were in was the room that was saved, and so none of us were hurt," Cheryl Pridgen said.

Chuck Liles lived in the Hampton Oaks subdivision, where two children died in the tornado. He said he yelled for his family that night.

"It's like an explosion or implosion of your house. [My wife] grabbed Lauren and I grabbed Phil, and I threw them down in the hall and grabbed hold of the door jambs and the next thing I know – boom," he said.

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