ABBEVILLE CO., SC (WSPA) – An EF2 tornado touched down Monday in Abbeville County injuring one person.
According to the National Weather Service, the tornado ripped a nearly 30 mile path through Abbeville County and portions of Greenwood County.
The tornado toppled trees and damaged buildings while it was on the ground for more than 50 minutes from near Lowndesville to just northwest of Greenwood.
The NWS said one person was hurt when he was blown off of his back porch.
Wind speeds in the tornado reached up to 125 miles per hour.
Abbeville County Fire Marshal Tim Williams said the National Weather Service and county officials were out Tuesday assessing what happened.
Some of the destruction is visible along Old Douglas Mill Road and Stevenson Road.
Williams said they received their first calls around 2:30 Monday afternoon. County officials believe the storm could have started in the Lowndesville area.
Emergency responders said reports showed at least two homes have been destroyed, but multiple sheds and barns were also damaged. Williams said reports show possibly 10 homes have minor to moderate damage, including broken windows or roof damage.
One man said a tree fell on his house, but he was at work when it happened.
“Well, apparently it come across from the neighbors. This tree right here was on top of the house. They called me at work and when I come home, it was across the roof,” said Robert McElrath.
The trees landed on McElrath’s home, which went over his bedroom and bathroom.
McElrath said he has been living in his house since 1980.
“And it destroyed everything in the backyard. My carports and everything was crushed to the ground. Where the wind took the tops of these trees and put them in the backyard,” said McElrath. “We’ve had some really bad storms, but nothing like this before.”
Power lines and tree limbs were scattered across his property. Families and church groups were out helping McElrath and others in the neighborhood with clean-up efforts.
“We got off work and so I came home. My husband told me to come through Hodges because of the roads around here were blocked off and so I did,” said neighbor Amy Ricketts. “And when I got home, our home thankfully wasn’t damaged. The Lord just protected us. We did have power, but our neighbors did have a lot of damage.”
Ricketts’ husband and father were out with equipment to assist victims.
“It’s really neat to hear all of the chainsaws and tractors and all the crews and people coming out from churches and helping the neighborhood has just been a blessing,” said Ricketts. “And that’s the way Abbeville is, they just rally around people.”
Others also said they’ve never seen damage like this before.
“We were not expecting a direct hit, per se. It was a surprise, you know. It just kind of dropped in the area,” said Williams. “We’ve had several tornadoes in the past three years, and none of them was this much damage.”
“Not this bad. We get storms and a lot of wind a lot, but even on Stevenson coming home now on lunch break, I mean the trees and things are so damaged. I’ve never seen it like this way, ever in my life,” said Ricketts.
However, through it all, some said they are grateful for one thing.
“We happy to be alive,” said McElrath. “All of this could be replaced.”
“Had it been in the evening, or at night, you know, who knows what could’ve happened,” Williams concluded.
Williams also said one tree fell on a car while a person was going to their destination, but no injuries were reported.
The National Weather Service also confirmed a tornado touched down in Elbert County a short time before the Abbeville County twister.
Both tornadoes were spawned by the same severe thunderstorm.