Monday morning, 8:14 a.m.
Phillip and Valerie Lance were getting ready to go into work early that morning when they stopped to watch the news. They heard from a weather report that a tornado started out in Moncks Corner, then Jamestown and was headed towards Sampit.
They alerted their children and grandchildren, taking pillows and blankets, moving to a safer room. Lance went back and continued to watch the weather report, looking for updates on the tornado.
Suddenly, he heard a sound, described as a “train coming by.”
He immediately turned off the news, got into a safe area in the house and waited for the storm to pass.
Sitting in complete darkness, Lance and his family sheltered together.
Hearing only the rattle of glass. The whisk and whoosh of wind blowing shards into the house.
After the storm calmed down, Lance walked in the still-raining outdoors to see the damage that was done to their house.
His windows were broken, front exterior and interior of the living room was out.
And the front porch was torn completely off.
On April 13, South Carolina faced its deadliest tornado outbreak in 36 years.
On that day, 16 tornadoes touched down in South Carolina during a severe weather storm. The tornadoes ravaged through multiple communities in Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Georgetown, and Hampton County killing at least nine people and injuring 77, according to the National Weather Service.
No injuries or fatalities were reported in Georgetown County.
This was the deadliest day for tornado since March 1984 outbreak when 12 twisters hit the northern part of the palmetto state, killing 15 people.
One of the locations in Georgetown County that the tornado directly hit was Sampit, a unincorporated community located west of Georgetown.
At around 8:13 a.m, with winds gushing at 90 mph, the EF1 tornado storm started a little south of Saint Delights Road then crossed over onto Powell Road near Anna Drive. The tornado moved across a swampy area just south of Sampit and crossed Highway 17/Alt Highway 521. Survey crews said that the tornado lifted after crossing a field between Sollie Circle and Goings Street. Nonetheless, the storm had a tremendous effect on this small community.
The tornado uprooted or snapped trees like a matchstick, leaving holes and damaging homes and power lines.
Many, like Lance, were left with the aftermath in Sampit community that same morning.
After it cleared up, all that was left was a clear sky with the smell of fresh spring pine needles among the debris. Residents began making their way out their homes to see the aftermath of the storm and rummaged in their backyards for belongings. After realizing they sustained no serious injuries, Lance drove around the neighborhood to see if anyone required any help.
“It was just that spirit of community where everyone’s looking out for their brothers” he said about checking on their neighbors. “We’re checking on our neighbors and our neighbors are not just the people next door to us. But are the people who are in our community.”
Along the way, they saw a lot of collateral damage to houses along with cars toppled under huge trees and people starting to clear the debris out their yard.
Even through all the devastation, he still gives thanks to God for keeping his family safe.
Another community member remembers that faithful morning and said she and her family were lucky.
A senior resident recalled the booming of a 50 ft tree falling into the side of their house, where she was lying in bed. The tree slammed into the window where a explosion of glass came into the room.
“I was lying in the bed when I heard an explosion and saw the glass splattering into the room,” she said. “I was just glad to get out of there without injuries.”
The explosion alarmed her and her family to move into the center of the house. Through all the powerful winds, no one moved until after it passed and began flocking outside to look at their once intact residence.
What happened after the storm?
After it passed, power was out in many homes in the community with some residents’ reporting that it didn’t come back on until two or three days later. In over a week’s time, residents have started to resume normal lives.
Lance had to secure a tarp on his house to protect his home from the elements.
“Start working on getting everything repaired and somewhat back to normal,” he said. Lance was joined in removing debris with his children and grandchildren.
“They started grabbing pieces of trees and debris and moving them to the location that we designated them to take it too. After they had got their fill of the work, then they got their bicycles and rode around in the yard.”
Lance was among those that had to put up large tarps on their homes sustained from wind and heavy rainfall damage. Shingles and tiles could be seen missing with some moved a great distance from their home. They even had to patch up holes in the ceilings so that water would not leak in.
Some residents reported power was back up two to three days later and that all there was left for them to do was clear their yard of the left by the severe storm.
Waste hauler trucks from the county have swept the roads full of scattered waste. Residents have even taken upon themselves to move some of the branches out of their yard into ditches along with anything considered trash.
Even though there is a lot of work ahead, they thanked God for allowing them to escape the storm unscathed.