GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) — On Friday, the National Weather Service surveyed parts of Gaffney after storms brought strong winds and rain across the area Thursday night.
Tree limbs, debris, and pieces of roofing were scattered across the yard of a home on Jefferies Street on Friday morning.
“We were out there for about two and a half hours,” said Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Doug Bowers.
Around 5 p.m. Thursday evening, a tree fell, trapping six people who were home at the time. Two women were on the porch and crews spent hours, clearing debris and freeing a 58-year-old woman.
“We had to call in some specialized equipment to be able to lift. Every time we tried to lift using our normal rescue means, the house would shift or the tree would shift,” said Bowers.
The coroner said 78-year-old Thelma Carroll, who was sitting on the porch when the tree fell, died at the scene. He said the tree was rotten at its base and was knocked over by strong winds. Bowers said there were multiple reports of funnel clouds in the area on Thursday. On Friday, the National Weather Service surveyed the damage.
“They had a plot of the path of both funnel clouds, we rode the paths, didn’t find any other damage. The house on Jefferies Street turned out to be out of the path of the funnel clouds,” said Bowers.
Experts said the damage to the home was the result of strong winds, not a tornado. Bowers said it shows the kind of damage a storm can cause.
“People always think that tornadoes, that’s the one that I need to be careful of and I need to take shelter from, but yesterday was a prime example of why you need to listen, heed those warnings, go inside and stay away from windows,” said Bowers.
He said if a tornado had touched down, it would have caused major damage across the county.
“The paths of both funnel clouds that came through Cherokee County could have been horrible. They both would have hit highly populated areas. They both could have hit a lot of commercial and industrial facilities. It could have been a lot worse,” said Bowers.
Bowers encourages people to sign up for Code Red emergency alerts. People in Cherokee County can text the word ‘Cherokee’ to 99411 or call (864) 487-2743 to sign up.
The National Weather Service also surveyed parts of North Carolina. Experts confirmed an EF-0 tornado briefly touched down in Cleveland County near Latimore on Thursday.