Edgefield County turned upside down after strong EF2 tornado strikes

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Monday, March 4, 2019
News 12 at 11

EDGEFIELD COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Storm damage from the tornado is the greatest in Edgefield County, where entire neighborhoods were turned upside down by the wind and rain.

Today and into the evening, crews were hard at work to help clean up roads, homes, and get things back to normal.

Neighbors say it could have been worse but this cleanup will take a while.

From the moment the tornado ended Sunday night, all the way through this evening, Chris Thatcher had one goal in mind, to dig out his community.

"We just loaded up the piece of equipment I have and went," said Thatcher.

Thatcher owns a local heating and cooling company but also lives off Sweetwater Road, right near ground zero.

"From what I've seen, it looked like a bomb went off," said Thatcher.

Thatcher and his volunteers use what little equipment they have to drive into the hardest hit areas offering to piece together these shattered neighborhoods.

"A lot, it's back-breaking work," said Thatcher.

But he says he doesn't mind.

"We just went door to door asking do you need help? There's zero payment. A thank you. A handshake. That's what communities do," said Thatcher.

One of those families is Bruce Hitt's.

"The whole family was over here with the grandkids," said Hitt.

He and 14 other family members gathered for dinner had a scare when the storm hit.

"We walked out on the back porch and 30 seconds later we were headed in because it got that bad that quickly," said Hitt.

Bruce has a tree on his house, 11 more down in his yard but still feels thankful.

"We all feel like we've been blessed by the lord because nobody got hurt," said Hitt.

Bruce says some of his neighbors have water damage and holes in their roofs but it could have been worse. He's thankful for crews like Chris', working around the clock for nothing but a thank you and some goodwill.

"Go because you're trying to show the love of Christ and that's what we're doing here," said Thatcher.

The craziest part about this storm is how spotty the damage is. In the neighborhoods it hit, it was devastating but if you travel a quarter mile around the bend, things look totally normal.

News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

EDGEFIELD COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – Members of the community weren't spared from the damage done by the tornado. Places like Sportsman’s Corner on Martintown Road and Greg’s Gas Plus had some of the worst damage in the area.

Seven people were injured in Edgefield County, 4 in a car hit by a tree and another in a car accident.

A couple who lives in the area says the tornado was quick and terrifying. Their entire neighborhood was in the path of the tornado, according to the National Weather Service.

The row of snapped trees in their backyard show how close they were to the storm.

This Navy veteran built his dream home 25 years ago.

"We have been married 26 years and been here 25," said Jerry Pittman.

In a matter of seconds, he listened as an EF-2 tornado ripped his house and neighbors homes apart.

"Inside my garage my ceiling collapsed. So everything in my attic is hanging down," said Pittman.

The damage on the ground is hard to stomach.

"It blew out my back window here on the van,” said Pittman.

It's only from up above that you can see how close his home was to the path of the tornado.

"The trees the house all that can be fixed. We are safe and we are fine. That is very, very fortunate for us," said Pittman.

In total, more than a dozen homes were damaged. One trailer less than a mile away was destroyed.

7:29 a.m.
EDGEFIELD COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The National Weather Service now says an EF2 tornado struck Edgefield County on Sunday afternoon.

An EF2 tornado is listed as having wind speeds from 111 to 135 mph.

Storms that whisked through the CSRA on Sunday injured at least seven people in Edgefield County -- most of which at Sportsman Corner and Woodlawn. At least one of those injuries was from a car accident from the storm.

All schools in Edgefield County are operating under a two-hour delay Monday morning.

Edgefield County EMA is asking for people in the area to report power outages to Aiken Co-op and/or Dominion Energy.

Check your outages here:
Dominion Energy
Aiken Electric Cooperative