This cross, with its purple Easter sash, sits in small open space next to Caraleigh Baptist Church in Raleigh. If you look, you can see it from S. Saunders Street, in the middle of what seems to be the path Saturday’s tornado took after crossing the highway.

That is a roughly 3-foot-diameter tree uprooted behind the cross. Other trees in the neighborhood were pretty clearly twisted apart by the tornado. And if it was “only” straight line winds that hit this particular spot, they were strong enough to rip a gutter off the church.

Neighbors say the cross was not moved by the storm. Pictures taken Saturday show it amidst the fallen tree, branches on either side. It would appear people cut the tree away from the cross with chainsaws.

“It stood the entire time. …” said Betty Geraldi, who lives across the street. “Gave a lot of people hope.”

“Did not budget,” said Jerry Whitby, whose mother lives nearby.

“Jerry and I grew up in that neighborhood, were in the same youth group in the church,” Whitby’s wife, Kathy wrote in an email. “(We) were saved and baptized there, and then married in that same church.”

  • These two images are from Saturday, 1-2 hours after the storm, according to Kathy Whitby of Garner, who provided them.

I guess it’s a small thing, when 23 people died. A cross didn’t fall down in Raleigh. At least it certainly doesn’t seem to have. I examined the dirt, and the wood. Not that I’d know exactly what I was looking for, beyond loose dirt and cracks, but I didn’t see any.

This National Weather Service map, combined with an obvious path of destruction on the ground and the NWS’ downloadable report on the tornado that went through Sanford, then Raleigh, would seem to indicate that the tornado that went through, or over, this cross was one of the strongest of the 26 that touched down Saturday in North Carolina.