SENECA, S.C. (WSPA) — Wednesday marked two years since a deadly tornado hit Seneca, killing one person and damaging many homes.
“EF-3 tornado comes through the community, it left a path of devastation, visual images that you could never imagine,” said city administrator Scott Moulder.
On April 13, 2020, many people in Seneca woke up to a storm. Around three in the morning, a tornado was coming through the area, waking up neighbors like Rick Harper.
“We got everybody up and got in the hall and just started heading downstairs,” said Harper. “We got halfway to the bottom of the stairs, all the doors blew out downstairs.”
His family eventually took cover in a hallway, waiting for the storm to pass.
“Every now and then you’re looking around and you notice a wall would be blown out of the house or the porch would be gone. Then after about a minute and a half, it was all over,” said Harper.
Moulder said the days after revealed the impact of the tornado.
“It was a very diverse range of damage, you saw houses completely destroyed, second stories completely ripped off, some houses had roofs taken off, some were picked up, rotated, and sat back down on their foundation,” said Moulder.
In the aftermath, Harper said people came to help.
“Volunteers started pouring in to help,” said Harper. “All the help we had, it was emotional. It was so many people, Samaritans Purse came out, just neighbors, everybody came out. It was really something to see because I didn’t know how we’d every clean up.”
He eventually rebuilt his home, and so did some of his neighbors. On Wednesday, Moulder said things look different than they did after the tornado hit.
“Two years later, we’re almost back to normal,” said Moulder.
He credits the volunteers who came to lend a hand and said the community lived up to the ‘Seneca Strong’ motto.
“We can attribute the quick response to the thousands of volunteers that came in to our community. They converged on us like armies, at one time I think we had like 1,500 volunteers out,” said Moulder.
“If you want to look at a silver lining, it brought us closer together,” said Moulder.
Officials said the tornado in April 2020 was at least half a mile wide at its peak and was on the ground for nearly 17 miles.
Moulder also said a relief fund was formed in the days after the tornado. He said 100 percent of it went to helping people rebuild.