© John Althouse/The Daily NewsA home along Hagaru Drive aboard Tarawa Terrace II, stands damaged after a tornado passed through the area late Saturday night.
North Carolina - Following a Saturday night tornado that tore through Camp Lejeune's Tarawa Terrace, residents of the base family housing area wandered around in the sunlight Sunday morning examining the devastation.

The storm's aftermath was astonishing: Roofs were ripped cleanly off of brand-new base houses while other adjoining homes were left unscathed. Gaping holes in apartments left dining rooms and breakfast nooks exposed, and in one cul-de-sac, three cars were stacked against each other like fallen dominoes, with another flipped on its side only yards away.

According to Lejeune officials, upwards of 130 homes aboard Tarawa Terrace I and II were affected, between 40 and 60 of them heavily damaged in the storm and at least 10 effectively destroyed.

"The nature of the tornado was really surgical," Lejeune spokesman Nat Fahy said of its mile and a half long swath of destruction. "There were some structures that were left untouched, and others clearly weren't."

Officials with the Marine Corps and Atlantic Marine Corps Communities staffed a Tarawa Terrace II community center all day Sunday, finding rooms for the night at the Lejeune Inn and Jacksonville hotels for roughly 40 base residents and assisting others with food, basic necessities and rental cars.

Minerva Tunacao, a Navy spouse with a 3-year-old and six6year-old at home, said she had been inside when the twister swept through.

"I heard it before it came," she said. "It sounded like a freight train."

Tunacao said there had been no time to panic; she grabbed her sons and their dog and sought shelter.

"I trust in God, so I just went into the bathroom and prayed," she said.

She said she has yet to tell her husband, deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, about the storm that shattered their minivan window and caused minor external damage to their home.

Sgt. Sean Hagstrom and his wife Cassie returned from dinner in Jacksonville to find part of a roof in their yard. But with damage to their own home consisting of a crumpled garage door and a few cracked solar panels, they said they felt fortunate to be safe and have most of their home intact.

Gratitude was a common theme Sunday.

Base commander Col. Daniel Lecce, who stood post at the TTII community center all day, said he was glad there had been no fatalities in the disaster, and only 10 base residents hospitalized for storm-related injuried.

"We've been lucky on the injuries," he said. "We had no deaths. It was mostly property damage."

At a heavily attended town hall meeting held 5 p.m. Sunday night at TTII, Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos made an appearance to promise tornado victims that the Corps would help them rebuild and recover.

"We'll rebuild houses. We'll fix things; we'll repair things. We'll do the right thing, you have my word on this," he said. "In circumstances like this, it's not quite clear to begin with what the next step is. But we're got great family members, great leadership, and we'll do the right thing."

Lecce vowed to assist displaced residents with any issue they might encounter, from spoiling food in refrigerators to looters.

"I have zero, I mean no tolerance for that. None. if we catch that, I promise you I will prosecute it to the max," he said, to applause from residents.

Lecce said he had spoken with unit commands, and said spouses of families in affected housing who are currently in off-site training or at Mojave Viper will be recalled to Lejeune if at all possible.

From legal issues to insurance claims, he invited storm victims to bring their concerns to him or his staff for answers and assistance.

Lecce said Tarawa Terrace I Primary School, which suffered severe damage from the storm, will be closed Monday and Tuesday. Following that, portions of the school may be re-opened or the students may be moved to another on-base facility, he said.

Parents of children who attend Tarawa Terrace I Primary School will be notified via the one call messaging system with instructions and updates as to when and where school services will resume.

Counselors will be available at Tarawa Terrace II Elementary School for children who may need them.

The nine base residents treated at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital and Onslow Memorial for cuts, lacerations and an asthma attack had all been released as of Sunday evening, Lecce said.

A 23-month-old boy, however, remained at Pitt Memorial Hospital on a ventilator in critical condition, having been life-flighted to the medical center with three fractured ribs, a cracked pelvis, a broken right femur and collapsed lung.

But the Marines who pulled him out of the wreckage of his home said it was a miracle the baby had survived.

Sgt. Jarred Boone, Lance Cpl. Thomas Dickerson, and Sgt. Greg Shafer said they had run to the aid of a screaming woman while the tornado winds continued to blow. Clearly injured herself, with cuts on her face and a tooth puncturing her lip, the woman told them she couldn't find her baby. The Marines began to root through a home that had been reduced to boards, finally lifting a wall to find the toddler underneath.

"The baby was blue," Shafer said. "I lifted that wall up, and we brought him in the back door of (Dickerson's house) and laid him on the floor."

The men said one of the other heroes of the day had been a Navy medical officer who appeared seemingly from nowhere, administered CPR and kept the baby alive until officials from the appear Provost Marshal's Office could arrive.

The man, Lt.j.g. Jonathan Hamrick, a Navy critical care nurse, told The Daily News via email he lived in a home nearby and had operated on adrenaline, rushing to the aid of the distraught mother.

After EMS personnel arrived, Hamrick said he stayed to provide comfort and care.

"I comforted the mother, bandaged her left foot which had several deep lacerations from all of the glass and debris from her home, and got her into the front seat," he said. "I told her that they would take care of her and her son, I touched her hand and I left."

The baby's father, a Marine with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines who was in pre-deployment training in the Mojave Desert, has been recalled to Jacksonville, Camp Lejeune spokesman Nat Fahy said.