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EF-2 tornado leaves about a 6-mile swath of damage in Pickens County

By Hannah Mackenzie

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    PICKENS COUNTY, South Carolina (WLOS) — The National Weather Service on Thursday confirmed two tornadoes touched down Wednesday in Pickens County, South Carolina.

According to NWS, the winds in one were clocked at 115 miles per hour and damage was consistent with that of an EF-2 tornado. The system was estimated to have been about a quarter-mile wide with a 6-mile-long path.

A neighborhood off Reece Mill Road sustained some of the worst damage. One home on Lost Valley Road was split in two, and a woman inside had to be rescued. Neighbor Billy Banks provided the tools.

“I just grabbed my chainsaw and ran down here. [When I] got down here, the fire department asked if they could use my saw. I said yes and they cut her out,” Banks said. “She’s got a bunch of scratches, she’s got bruises on her back, stuff like that, but she’s fine. She’s lucky.”

Treetops were littered with debris and insulation from surrounding homes. Many residents were out Thursday afternoon working to cover their damaged roofs with tarps. Allison Coleman, who lives on Crystal Lane, said her family and her son’s friend took shelter in their bathroom.

“[We heard] a really loud roar, and then we heard the roof being ripped [off],” Coleman said. “Praise the Lord, we’re alive and we’re not hurt. God is good.”

Volunteers with The American Red Cross were conducting damage assessments, said Mandy McWherter, regional communications director with The American Red Cross South Carolina.

“We’re just collecting that information to find out what happened, what have these families experienced and what are their immediate needs,” McWherter said. “From there, we’ll then be hopefully provide them with some financial assistance to help them on their recovery.”

According to The American Red Cross, they are assisting five families whose homes were destroyed by the tornado. Bruce Harrington, who also lives in the area, said the tornado missed his home by 100 yards.

“There was no warning. It just hit,” Harrington said. “After the fact, they sent me a text message ‘You’ve got a tornado coming’ Duh!”

On Thursday night, the NWS confirmed a second tornado touched down Wednesday in Pickens County. The EF-0 tornado with winds peaking at 70 mph caused “a few trees” to uproot and “several large branches” to break, officials said.

Pickens County officials have reported no fatalities or serious injuries.

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