“It’s devastating”: Orangeburg County residents react to Monday’s tornado

Two people died, seven more injured after EF-3 tornado ripped through county Monday morning

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WOLO) —The large surge of storms Monday morning left a path of destruction in rural Orangeburg County.

Several homes were destroyed and the Orangeburg County Coroner’s Office says two people died from injuries sustained during the storm.

Orangeburg County Coroner Samuetta Marshall said Gerald Chavis, 63, and his wife Doris, 68, died Monday as a result of blunt force trauma.

The National Weather Service classified Monday’s tornado in Orangeburg County as an EF3 storm, which is the third-most severe type of storm on the Fujita scale.

The storm woke up several residents in small communities like Neeses and Livingston, and some were stunned to see the damage in their yards.

“It’s a nightmare. Giant, 200-year-old trees just blown over, uprooted, snapped off. It just reminded me of Hugo,” said Tony Chavis, who is a distant relative of the two people who passed away Monday.

Some, like Fischer Jeffcoat, suffered severe property damage as a result of the storm.

“My backhoe is destroyed, my tractor’s turned over, my pickup — one house had been blown onto my pickup so it’s just bad, it’s devastating,” Jeffcoat said.

Some say the storm only lasted about five to ten minutes, but some say it could take months to heal from what it left in its wake.

“I mean it was a beautiful place around here, but now it’s demolished,” Chavis said.

In addition to the two deaths, seven more people, including Johnny Harley’s brother and wife, had to be taken to the hospital.

“I’m just going to gather up everything for him, because he’s 80 years old, and it’s going to be rough for him,” Harley said.

Despite a large number of people being displaced by the storm, the American Red Cross is not setting up a shelter to prevent any possible spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re working with community partners and lots of generous hotels to determine appropriate lodging for these folks,” said Ben Williamson with the American Red Cross South Carolina Region.

Even with support from the community, some say it will be tough to clean up what the storm left behind.

“This is something like we’ve never seen. It’ll never be the same,” Chavis said.

Governor Henry McMaster (R-SC) said nine people have died as a result of Monday’s storms. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division says the areas hardest hit by the storms include Aiken, Berkeley, Colleton, Hampton, Oconee, Orangeburg, and Pickens Counties.

Categories: Local News, News