1 dead after EF-3 tornado touches down in Seneca

Local News

UPDATE (4/14/20): Oconee County Emergency Management officials said the two who were missing have been found alive.


SENECA, SC (WSPA) – One person was killed and two are still missing after an EF-3 tornado touched down in Oconee County, early Monday morning.

The National Weather Service said the tornado hit around 3:20am with estimated winds of 160 miles per hour.

The twister touched down south of Westminster and passed through Seneca before ending north of Clemson, the NWS said.

Officials said the tornado was at least a half mile wide at its peak and was on the ground for almost 17 miles.

According to the Oconee County Coroner’s Office, 77-year-old security guard Jack Harvill of Walhalla was stationed at the main entrance of the Borg Warner Plant when part of the building collapsed at about 3:30 a.m. He died at the scene.

Two other people are still missing and there are numerous other injuries, according to the National Weather Service.

Leaders with the Oconee County Emergency Management Services said roads like Goddard Ave. were hit pretty hard in Seneca. There were a number of trees and power lines down. 7-News also saw a cemetery destroyed with several trees toppled onto graves.

Zach Lamneck said a building next to his home collapsed, and it scared his family. Lamneck and his coworkers, worked to remove debris all over his neighborhood on Monday afternoon.

“My neighbor, it tore through his building. There’s a truck in there, he got all of his lawn mowers, and it’s demolished,” Lamneck said. “There’s a house up the road with the whole roof off,” Lamneck added.

Some families had large trees uprooted from their yards, and for many, those trees and power lines are through their homes. One family who lives off of East South 2nd St., said some members of their family were trapped when the storm came through.

“They were in the kitchen when it all started, but then they heard a loud boom. I guess they heard the crack from the tree, and then they ran into the hallway.  So the tree barely missed them,” said Monica Williams, grand-daughter to homeowner.

Williams said her grandmother has been living in the home since the 70’s. Williams said the roof is now cracking in the living room and in one of the bedrooms. With the home and work order in place, Williams said her grandmother is need of help. However, she’s grateful that she is alive.

“My grandma is my world like I love her to death. And like I told her, your house is replaceable, you walked out scratch free and that’s what we’re just happy about,” Williams said. “You see this stuff on TV, but you don’t see it in real life. And then you don’t know the severity of anything until it’s actually right there in front of you. It was dark when we first got here, you couldn’t really see anything, but then as the sun came up it’s just like wow. It’s something,” Williams added.

Right now, the family is planning on setting up a Go-Fund Me account to help with expenses.

Seneca leaders are asking everyone to stay off the roads as much as possible. They have enacted a curfew that will start at 9:00 p.m. Monday until 8:00 a.m. Tuesday.

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