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Tornado tears through Colleton County, leaving a wake of damage

Airplanes at the Lowcountry Regional Airport were tossed around like toys during Monday mornings storm. Photo by Christie Slocum

One Colleton County person has died from the Monday morning storm and tornado that tore through Colleton County, with that storm also leaving a wake of damage, downed power lines and debris.
The storm created problems throughout South Carolina on Monday, passing into the overall Lowcountry region starting at about 5:30 a.m.
The three-hour storm moved from the middle of the state near Columbia and then into the greater Lowcountry region, ending in coastal Charleston County by around noon on Monday.
The storm is responsible for multiple deaths in several counties, including two reported storm-related deaths in neighboring Hampton County and one confirmed death in Colleton County.
In Walterboro, one person died from the storm.
The Colleton County victim is identified as Ethel Griffin, 46, of Barracada Road in Walterboro.
She was pronounced dead at the scene, said Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey.
According to Barry McRoy, director/chief of Colleton County Fire-Rescue, a tree fell onto the woman’s Walterboro house during Monday’s storm, leading to her cause of death. Harvey confirmed this as her cause of death, and has the incident occurring at about 7 a.m., he said.
Two other people inside the house were also injured in the event.
They were transported to Colleton Medical Center.
“The family received the emergency alert and they went into a bedroom. The tree then fell onto the bedroom,” said McRoy.
McRoy said all three of the family members were pinned down by the tree and roof debris, but the male victim was able to free himself and call 911.
Emergency crews dug through the rubble and located a child: the two adults were caring for their grandchild when the storm occurred.
The child is approximately 1 year old.
“She was covered in debris,” said McRoy. The child and the grandfather are recovering from their injures.

Damage assessment
The storm also left a wake of damage. Milder damage from the storm includes debris and downed power lines, which impacted most of Colleton County through Monday.
The more severe damage occurred near downtown Walterboro, at the Lowcountry Regional Airport and Edisto Beach. An entire hangar vanished in the storm on Monday, and multiple planes at the airport were overturned and damaged.
Many businesses in the greater Walterboro area were also damaged, with roofs torn from county-owned buildings and many private businesses. Additionally, multiple homes were damaged and/or destroyed. “You could see the path of destruction from the tornado through Hickory Valley and downtown Walterboro,” said Christie L. Slocum, a reporter with The Colletonian Newspaper. Slocum worked the field early Monday morning following the storm and documented much of the debris and damage was done to the Colleton community.
“It was horrific to see the damage done, particularly at the airport,” she said.
Some of the city’s more historic buildings, including the Bedon-Lucas House, were spared from severe damage.
However, at Edisto Beach, at least 20 homes were damaged from high winds and tornadic activity.
The beach town also had debris and multiple power outages, according to Iris Hill, administrator for the Town of Edisto Beach. “We are blessed that there were no injuries reported, most likely due to the limited amount of folks here due to COVID 19,” said Hill.
Cottageville sustained little damage from Monday’s storm.
“God has His hand over the town of Cottageville. We are so grateful for that,” said Cottageville Police Chief J. Cook. Cook reported on Monday that little to no houses and businesses were damaged during the storm.
Meanwhile, both City of Walterboro and Colleton County officials chose to close their municipal buildings for the entire day on Monday. This was because of power outages, debris in the roadway and skeletal crews already working as a result of COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus.
According to Lt. Amye Stivender, spokeswoman for the City of Walterboro and the Walterboro police and fire departments, the city also experienced flooding on Monday, especially near Ivanhoe Road.

Heather Walters (1738 Posts)