More than $200 million in property damages projected after Seneca tornado

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SENECA, S.C. (WSPA) – So far, Seneca leaders have projected over $200 million worth of property damage from Monday’s deadly tornado.

Thursday morning, leaders assessed the tornado damage from a helicopter. The city’s administrator said they’ve found additional damage in the southern part of the county.

Leaders said although major work still needs to be done, they’ve made a lot of progress. Since the EF-3 tornado hit, crews have been assessing and assisting victims. Some people said they’re just ready for things to go back to normal.

“I see it on TV so much, but when you’re actually going through it, it’s real,” Malik Williams said.

Williams said a tree almost came through his home during the deadly tornado.

“In that moment I was scared,” Williams said.

Now left with shattered windows, a damaged roof, and no power, he said life has been difficult.

“With cooking food and stuff and having to go out and get food every time, it’s been hard,” Williams said.

It’s his birthday, and one of his wishes is for his family to have electricity and their necessities again.

“We don’t have hot water right now either because of the storm, so we’ve been having to go to friend’s house to shower,” Williams said.

Seneca leaders said after the helicopter assessment, they’re suspecting new information about the storm.

“We did find additional damage in the southern end of the county that we did not know was there. So we’ve now dispatched teams to visit with those property owners,” said Scott Moulder, City Administrator for Seneca.

“The tornado path was actually a half a mile wide, but now we’ve found–instead of it being just a 16 mile path, it may have been a larger path than that,” Moulder said. “It doesn’t appear the tornado was on the ground the whole time from where it originally started,” he added.

He said the National Weather Service will have to make determinations on everything the city found. Either way, they believe it’ll be a long road to recovery.

“The early indication is, we’re over 200 million dollars worth of property damage, that we’ve been able to calculate at this point,” Moulder said.

His said this is based off a windshield survey that was done by drive-by assessors. Leaders said a task force has been going out assessing the damage values on a preliminary calculation. They also said FEMA requires this to be done for the projected damage cost. 

To date, more than 100 linemen have already restored 5,000 customers’ power with Seneca Light & Water, and they only have 2,000 more to go, Moulder said. He also told 7-News, 400 transformers will have to be repaired and replaced, along with 1,000 poles.

“We also suspect there may have been two that eventually merged into one, just from what we’re seeing from in the air,” Moulder said.

As the hard work continues, families are embracing the present, but hoping for the best in the future.
 
“The next couple of days, I just want to focus on getting everything…getting this back to how it was,” Williams said.

The administrator said it’ll take months to get everything back to normal. As for power, he said it’ll take about two weeks for all of it to be restored.

They have set-up a hotline for assistance at the Oconee County Call Center.

You can contact their hotline seven days a week at 864-364-5428 or 864-364-5436.

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