Tornado destroys parts of Kershaw County high school

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Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020

WESTVILLE, S.C. (WIS) - As severe weather swept through the Midlands on Saturday night, one school in Kershaw County was hit directly by a tornado.

The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed North Central High School was heavily damaged by an EF-2 tornado.

NWS estimates the winds were around 130 mph. The path and length of the tornado have not been determined.

The NWS Storm Survey Team has confirmed a high end EF-2 Tornado at North-Central HS in Kershaw County, SC. The estimated winds are around 130 mph. The data is still preliminary as the team will need to evaluate the path width and length of the tornado.

Walls of the school caved in, parts of the roof were ripped off and school buses were tossed into each other in the parking lot.

Thankfully, no one was in the school at the time of the storm, the Sheriff’s Office said, and no injuries have been reported.

Deputies said the public should not go on school property until they can make the area safe. They shared the following statement on social media:

We received severe weather last night that left major damage to North Central High School. We are very thankful this storm did not hit while our children were in school. No storm related injuries have been reported as of this time.

We are asking for all spectators to stay off North Central High School property until qualified personnel can complete their assessments and make the area safe and secure. KCSO deputies will be patrolling the property.

North Central High School may be closed for a period of time. Please follow Kershaw County School District’s page for updates on when students may return to school."

Students were already scheduled to be out of school on Monday and Tuesday because of teacher professional work days, a district spokeswoman said. They should expect to go to class Wednesday, though the district is working to find alternative places for them to learn.

School officials said it’s possible the school will not open for the rest of the year because of the extent of repairs needed.

Governor Henry McMaster issued a statement on Twitter regarding the damage saying:
">"I have spoken with Principal Branham, Superintendent Robbins, and Senator Sheheen to offer assistance. It’s a blessing that no one was on the North Central High campus last night. We can replace buildings and buses but not lives."

This story will be updated.

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