Tornado confirmed, shelter opening; Governor reviewing

Video of tornado damage in Augusta, Beech Island and Petticoat Junction.
Saturday, April 11, 2009 8:54 AM
Last updated Sunday, April 12, 2009 12:09 AM
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A shelter is being opened at 5 p.m. today at Jackson Middle School on Atomic Road for victims of last night's storm that brought widespread damage and a least one confirmed tornado.

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A large tree toppled over and crushed a Ford pickup belonging to Jim McNair on Louisville Road during the storm that ripped across the CSRA on Friday night near midnight.  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
A large tree toppled over and crushed a Ford pickup belonging to Jim McNair on Louisville Road during the storm that ripped across the CSRA on Friday night near midnight.

Aiken County sheriff's Capt. Charles Barranco said he wasn't sure how many people would be seeking shelter there from the Beech Island and Petticoat Junction areas. He said his office and other authorities were continuing to help residents with clearing trees and other debris.

Meanwhile, a National Weather Service assessment team reviewing last night's storm damage in Columbia County has confirmed an F-1 tornado touched down near Harlem, according to a statement released by Columbia County.

The tornado would be part of a large storm that swept the region and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is monitoring damage reports. However, a spokesman said this afternoon, he doesn't think it will require federal assistance.

Bert Brantley, Mr. Perdue's spokesman, said the first job is to get everyone safe and in temporary housing. An assessment phase could take two weeks, he said.

"At first glance, it doesn't appear the damges exceeded the threshold for federal assistence," he said.

"Of course, as the governor says, 'If it was your home or business that was destroyed, the devestation is total.'"

Damage from the storm that swept through the region late Friday and weather seemed particulary rough in South Carolina, where at least one man died.

Aiken County officials said they were going door to door in Beech Island and Petticoat Junction, checking on residents.

“We are still getting calls,” Aiken Sheriff's Capt. Charles Barranco told a noon news conference. He said residents in need of emergency care are asked to call 911; those needing information on electrical power or shelter should call 211.

Capt. Barranco said it's unclear how many homes were damaged or how many people were hurt. However, David Ruth, of Aiken County's Emergency Management Division, said at least 27 people were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

Meanwhile the Silver Bluff Fire Department is relying on the help of the Beech Island, New Ellenton and Jackson fire departments after its main facility was destroyed by the storm.

“The station's totaled. There's one wall standing,” said Silver Bluff Fire Chief Kerry Green.

The station lost three firetrucks inside and has only one left, which is operating out of a substation.

Capt. Barranco also said the First Citizen Bank in Beech Island lost its roof, and that there was heavy damage to New Beginnings Ministries on Highway 278.

Capt. Barranco said the public is asked to stay away from the area, however anyone wishing to help with cleanup efforts may call the American Red Cross at 803- 641- 4152.

State Rep. Roland Smith, of Aiken County, was also at the scene and pledged the state's help.

One Petticoat Junction resident, Darrell Miller, said he was in shock this morning as he walked through the wreckage of what had been his auto glass business and nearby mobile home.

“I can't believe it came through like this," he said.

He said when the storm hit he, his wife and three children were inside their mobile home when "it just started lifting up.”

The home was thrown on its side, he said, but they were able to escape.

He said he then took his family behind the business into a ditch and they stayed there until the storm blew over.

Looking at the rubble this morning, he said he didn't know how the family escaped alive.

Elsewhere, authorities identified a man killed last night in a storm related traffic accident.

James Adkinson, 63, of Beech Island, died on Chime Bell Church Road, according to Aiken Coroner Tim Carlton.

Mr. Adkinson was driving in bad weather with poor visibility, when he inadvertently drove into some trees that had fallen across the roadway, Mr. Carlton said.

In Augusta, Richmond County's Emergency Management unit has set up a processing center at the Bernie Ward Center on Lumpkin Road.

Two families were sheltered last night, said Jana Hill, public affairs director for the American Red Cross-Augusta Chapter. However, whether additional families have been displaced is still unknown.

“A lot of people are just now starting to check the extent of the damage to their homes. It may be a while before we know exactly how many others, if any, have been displaced,” she said.

Chief Howard Willis, director of the EMA, said that based on a fly-over done this morning, most of the damage seemed to be concentrated in the Barton Chapel, Cherry Hill and Bungalow areas and in some parts near the South Carolina border.

“I want to discourage anyone who doesn't need to be in those damaged areas to stay out of it,” he said.

Licensed inspectors from the city's license & inspection department and fire department inspectors are spending the day checking structures around the county, he said. So far, they have found 127 homes that have damage ranging from moderate to being completely destroyed.

Only minor injuries have been reported.

“We know there is wide spread damage and we are going to do our best to help people recover from this,” Chief Willis said. “If you have any information or have been affected by the storms, you need to let us know so that we can help you.”

The processing center will be open today until 5 p.m. and Sunday and Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you are unable to go to the processing center, you are asked to contact the United Way through the 2-1-1 system.

It appeared last night's storm cut a wide path through McDuffie, Columbia, Burke, Richmond and Aiken counties.

Kim Campbell with the National Weather Service in Columbia told The Associated Press that surveyors think the Aiken County damage was caused by a tornado.

Duke Energy reported that about 12,000 of its South Carolina customers were without power today. South Carolina Electric and Gas reported about 1,500 customers without power.

Columbia County also saw damage, although officials say no injuries have been reported.

The brunt of damage occurred about 10:30 p.m. at Browns, Intermediate and Louisville roads near Harlem and inside Grovetown city limits, where some mobile homes were damaged.

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sassygalady30
1
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sassygalady30 04/11/09 - 10:27 am
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my heart goes out to the

my heart goes out to the family.

smbga
38
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smbga 04/11/09 - 11:12 am
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this is very sad

this is very sad

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 04/11/09 - 11:12 am
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Bless his soul.

Bless his soul.

Ode to Augusta
0
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Ode to Augusta 04/11/09 - 11:27 am
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Is the EMD in the Columbia

Is the EMD in the Columbia County the only accessible and rational sounding one in the area. She is the only one the AC ever quotes or talks to. I can only assume the EMD in Richmond County is an unqualified person appointed due to affirmative action.

YellowHammer
0
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YellowHammer 04/11/09 - 11:47 am
0
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I've seen the damage in

I've seen the damage in Grovetown and in the Barton Chapel area and it's pretty significant. I'm guessing an EF-1 tornado. Some of the Barton Chapel area borders EF-2 damage.

What's clearly evident to me is how the local media is covering this event. Had this occured in Evans, Martinez, or West Augusta; it would be a huge story. But Grovetown, South Augusta, and Carolina just don't interest the news peddlers quite as much apparently.

Fiat_Lux
18389
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Fiat_Lux 04/11/09 - 12:31 pm
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What, a little class envy

What, a little class envy eatin' at you, YellowHammer? You're painting with very broad strokes there, Bud. The West Augusta / Martinez area is starting to look just like South Augusta and Grovetown, and Evans ain't far behind. You may as well give it up because whatever 'it' is about the non-rating areas of the CSRA, 'it' is spreading fast.

Frank
3
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Frank 04/11/09 - 12:45 pm
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Thing is, the Barton Chapel

Thing is, the Barton Chapel area isn't even mentioned in the article and, from the hit and miss information I've been able to gather, it seems to be worse than the damage on the Carolina side.. what's with?

YellowHammer
0
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YellowHammer 04/11/09 - 12:52 pm
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My point exactly Frank. Fiat

My point exactly Frank. Fiat Lux's attempt to classify me as someone with class envy is pretty funny. These comment postings do offer anonymity and of course most don't know who I am, but I'm the last person in the world who could have a legitimate claim against me of "class envy".
I just stated the facts as I see them. My point of view is just that; an opinion. But I'd venture to say that the vast majority of educated readers would agree that what I posted is pretty spot on.

Soggy_Bottom
45
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Soggy_Bottom 04/11/09 - 02:13 pm
0
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You need to check out north

You need to check out north of Waynesboro from Hwy25, across Hwy 56 and out to Hwy 23. Major mess. Mizell Ford has busted windows, houses destroyed, flipped over trailers, etc.

Trouble706
0
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Trouble706 04/11/09 - 04:14 pm
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Yellow Hammer, If what you

Yellow Hammer, If what you posted is actually read, then no one should have a problem with it because you merely point out that the media doesn't give attention to those areas.
However, SOME people like to find fault with what you posted without actually reading it or possibly without being able to comprehend what was written.

double_standard
166
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double_standard 04/11/09 - 05:06 pm
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Ode To Augusta Chief Howard

Ode To Augusta Chief Howard "Bubba" Willis is a white man that is well qualified. Your darling Pam Tucker the media queen she is qualified for her position in other ways.

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 04/11/09 - 05:07 pm
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Glenn Hills High School's

Glenn Hills High School's baseball field took a hit. Two banks of lights came down when their poles snapped. The fence is bent down. One of the poles is on top of a dugout. The poles are pulling power lines down to the ground. There is debris up in several trees. Several trees are snapped off at the top. Insulation has blown around for several miles, it looks like it came from Broadway Baptist Church (Barton Chapel Road) when part of the roof came off. A portion of the tall sign near Walmart (Deans Bridge) is blown out all over the hill below it. A lot of people were picking up insulation from around the church and across the street. The two homes across the street are two damaged to live in, the people are moving out. The cemetery across from the church next to Ghhs is full of limbs and trees, it is being cleared right now. The playground at Glenn Hills Elementary school has an uprooted tree resting across the metal swing set. That's just what I happened to notice on an errand, I wasn't out looking for damage.

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 04/11/09 - 05:39 pm
0
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Whatever do you mean

Whatever do you mean double_standard? You mean no one ever in Willis' department ever got something they weren't qualified to get? Like a young woman with a sergeant's badge and pay that didn't qualify for it? Anything like that ever happen? What other ways are you talking about? Or are you just jealous?

Mudfish
0
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Mudfish 04/11/09 - 06:37 pm
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Baroness, the problem with

Baroness, the problem with Bubba is, he has no control of who makes what rank in his department. It is the politicial bosses that do that for him.

Waynesboro Chick
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Waynesboro Chick 04/11/09 - 07:52 pm
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I must say that the storm hit

I must say that the storm hit hard in East Burke County-Hwy 56, Bates Road, Hwy 23 area. There are mobile homes that are flipped upside down and brick homes that are torn to pieces. An entire store was destroyed in last night's tornado. Please remember these families in your thoughts and prayers.

rehpotsirhc
0
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rehpotsirhc 04/11/09 - 07:53 pm
0
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Just reading post, and

Just reading post, and question? What is it about Grovetown that is so bad?????
Or South Augusta???? What exactly are you saying????

Ode to Augusta
0
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Ode to Augusta 04/11/09 - 08:16 pm
0
0
What is bad about South

What is bad about South Augusta? Have you driven through South Augusta lately or heaven forbid had to visit a business establishment in the area?

willistontownsc
55
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willistontownsc 04/11/09 - 08:49 pm
0
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According to The State

According to The State newspaper, the Aiken County twister is being classified as an EF-3.

willistontownsc
55
Points
willistontownsc 04/11/09 - 08:57 pm
0
0
Also, massive hail was

Also, massive hail was reported in Barnwell and Blackville as well.

willistontownsc
55
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willistontownsc 04/11/09 - 09:06 pm
0
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One thing I learned is that

One thing I learned is that the WJBF VTI numbers don't mean jack. The tornado's path that the AC posted had a 2.9 VTI out of 10 on the VIPIR 6 and it still was an EF-3. Meanwhile, the VTI was near 6.0 here in Williston and there was no tornado.

ListenAndLearn
0
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ListenAndLearn 04/11/09 - 09:07 pm
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Frank, it was, "Chief Howard

Frank, it was, "Chief Howard Willis, director of the EMA, said that based on a fly-over done this morning, most of the damage seemed to be concentrated in the Barton Chapel, Cherry Hill and Bungalow areas". Reading comprehension?

keepinitreal
0
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keepinitreal 04/11/09 - 09:15 pm
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I'm one of the residents of

I'm one of the residents of Cherry Hill subdivision and witnessed first hand what happend. The hardest hit home was on primrose dr, well actually the whole first row of homes on primrose were destroyed but, one in particular was the resident was supposedly inside the tub taking a shower or bath and the roof was suddenly lifted from the house. I know it all took place around 11 pm and my family and myself ran into our hallway and just like it came on suddenly, it was over as well. We were blessed that we did not sustain any damage at all. But a couple of other homes were seriously damage and one completely destroyed. It was actually the one with the person in the tub and we were told her roof landed on hwy 56.

ListenAndLearn
0
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ListenAndLearn 04/11/09 - 09:18 pm
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Ode, I get over to South

Ode, I get over to South Augusta, from Grovetown, occassionally, & have never had a problem. I carry concealed & have never had a problem in either area. I guess it's a perception thing. I've walked a lot of streets in Grovetown and South Augusta without feeling threatened. For the reading comprehension impaired, concealed means that no one I encountered knew I was armed.

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 04/11/09 - 10:00 pm
0
0
Where is Cherry Hill?

Where is Cherry Hill?

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 04/11/09 - 10:02 pm
0
0
"Baroness, the problem with

"Baroness, the problem with Bubba is, he has no control of who makes what rank in his department. It is the politicial bosses that do that for him.
Posted by The Old Man on Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:37 PM" I am aware of that. I suspect double_standard is, too. Thanks for spelling it out.

ListenAndLearn
0
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ListenAndLearn 04/11/09 - 10:24 pm
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keepinit, glad you & yours

keepinit, glad you & yours are safe.

KATHRYNTHIGPEN
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KATHRYNTHIGPEN 04/12/09 - 12:39 am
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keepinitreal, I too am glad

keepinitreal, I too am glad you and your family made it through the tornado in your area safely. I am in Beech Island and the devistation within the approximate 5 mile radius of my home is enough to tell me what type storm hit the CSRA last night. I've seen total concrete buildings flattened, homes wiped out, some mobile homes and some stick built, this tornado did not show favorites. I personally do not need anyone from Columbia to read a radar screen, then declare "oh there might have been a tornado" or " we think it was a tornado"....BS.....Ladies and Gentleman...Yes we had a tornado. Nothing else I know of will pick up 100+ year old oaks and pull them out of the ground with the root ball still attached, or twist some of them with trunks measuring at least 4 to 5 feet in diameter and render them to toothpicks.
A Great Big Thanks to all our Aiken county personel, SCE&G, and all the road crews who were out all night and all day clearing the main arteries, resetting power poles, and restoring our power in record time. These people went far beyond the call of duty to help us and keep us safe.

This is the CSRA'S loss, not just GA, SC or any certain area of either.

KATHRYNTHIGPEN
0
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KATHRYNTHIGPEN 04/12/09 - 12:48 am
0
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I also wanted to mention that

I also wanted to mention that the Family Dollar Store in the middle of Beech Island is missing it's sign. It is in my neighbors front yard ....3 miles from the store. Another neighbor has the hood from a white ford vehicle in his yard, so if you are missing one it is in the 400 block of Douglas Dr. in Beech Island. Yep, we're pretty sure it was a tornado, even if the weather people haven't decided yet what to call it.

Augustapaperdoll
0
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Augustapaperdoll 04/12/09 - 03:07 am
0
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I was wondering about the

I was wondering about the warning sirens that the city of Grovetown has, did they go off and if not, why? What good are they? And another thing Grovetown has a new Community center why wasn't it opened up for the families that need somewhere to go right away?

keepinitreal
0
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keepinitreal 04/12/09 - 08:11 am
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0
Baroness, it's off of Old

Baroness, it's off of Old Barton Chapel road which is off of Barton Chapel road behind Wright's Barbeque. KK, Ms. Thigpen, your sincerity is appreciated. Thank you. My husband and I also tired to view the Bungalow rd area, and to see those street lights actually leaning almost halfway down in the street was like mezmerizing at such a site and the guy was on the roof cuttin up this super big tree on that home and the building at the corner of that plaza at Peach Orchard and Bungalow was flatten and insulation and building parts were everywhere. Well I don;t know what's the deal with "not knowing for sure', but how do you explain the roof from the Primrose house being over on hwy 56? Even the sky patrol confimed Cherry Hill having been in one of the worst hit areas and it was like a tourist attraction out here yesterday. We drove out but had to walk back in and were not allowed to bring our cars home until around 4 or 5 pm .

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