National Weather Service confirms tornado struck Holly Hill Thursday night

Source: Live 5
Source: Live 5

HOLLY HILL, SC (WCSC) - The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Holly Hill during a round of severe weather Thursday night.

Survey teams are still working to determine the strength of the tornado, but based on the first point of damage observed, meteorologists believe the tornado first touched down at approximately 9:01 p.m. southwest of Holly Hill.

Teams are continuing to track damage along the tornado's path and using damage to estimate the likely windspeed. So far, meteorologists say the strongest estimate would put the tornado at an EF1 status, which would be within the 86 to 110 mph range.

The National Weather Service will release a full report when the survey is completed.

The storm left emergency crews and residents working to clean up debris Friday morning. Homeowners cleared branches, bark, and leaves from their yards.

But their cleanup was minor compared to what was happening Pine Street off Old State Road where broken bricks, two-by fours and the mangled metal roof from a nearby building were tossed into the street.

A snapped tree barely missed the First Baptist Church building.

Mike Patel was working at the Vego Mart across the street when heavy downpours and high winds came through.

"I'm inside the store, we heard the big big noise," Patel said.

Patel said it lasted for about five minutes. But within those few minutes, the store's siding and an air conditioning unit cover came down.

Nearby, Cindy O'Neil assessed the damage to the building that houses The Holly Hill Observer and The Santee Striper newspapers.

"I'm just going to leave the door locked until I'm told I'm able to come back in and I have power," O'Neil said.

That building is next door to a building where the roof was ripped off and they are dealing with damage to the ceiling tiles, which they say is sure to cause water leaks when more rain comes.

"I was very concerned that I would come up here and find more damage," O'Neil said.

She said she was relieved it was not worse, but now says the tough job to move important equipment and newspaper archives into a safer location begins so that the papers can meet their next deadline.

"You know, we're a small community we know all of our neighbors. Ya know, anytime something like this happens, you'll see the community come together," she said.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.