DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS/WMBF) - Darlington County residents are picking up the pieces after two tornadoes touched down there Sunday night, leaving trees toppled over and homes ripped from their foundations.
The devastation began in the Oates Community around 7:40 p.m. when an EF2 tornado touched down there and made its way to Allen Street.
Marie and Johnny Melton's Oates home sat right in the middle of the storm's path on East Seven Pines Street.
Marie and her son were inside when it hit. "He looked out the window and there was a piece of tin way up in the air, flying and he said, 'Mama, it's a tornado,'" said Marie.
The next few moments were absolute terror for the two as the storm actually turned the home upside down.
"We went all kinds of ways," said Marie. "We could tell the house was turning upside down and I didn't know what was happening, but I thought that we were going to die. Then all of a sudden we kind of popped out. I saw the sky, I thought that we were being sucked out, but it was over."
Marie called 911 from inside the rubble.
"I was afraid to move because I thought it was going to fall in," said Marie. "I didn't know my car was underneath us."
As the storm left the Oates Community, it barreled toward Allen Street. Brenda James was outside sitting in a truck in her Allen Street yard when the storm struck.
"I was trying to get out and when I was trying to get out, I pulled the door back and I was afraid, so I closed the door back and then when I closed the door back, I leaned down in the truck and I said, 'No, that tree might fall on me,' so I opened the door again and the wind took it from me," said James.
That same wind ripped the roof from her sister Mary's home, and left a gaping hole in the ceiling.
Mary Chapman wasn't home when the storm hit, but got the news from her brother within minutes.
The winds snapped trees and blocked Allen Street as it made its was east across South Main Street, leveling a garage and destroying everything in its path.
Hattie Johnson has lived in the area for 50 years. "I was inside eating and looking at TV and next thing I know I heard something bamming up top of the house," she said.
She listened as the winds ripped her roof away and flattened her outside shed. "I was too scared to look out the window to see what happened," she said.
Across the street, members of New Jerusalem were picking up papers blown out of a shed the church owned before the wind leveled it. They found a tithe envelope from 2000.
"We're talking 10 years, but we found it here in the school yard and we're across the street," said Pastor Linda Bailey.
Darlington Mayor Tony Watkins said a nearly new roof was torn off of Cain Elementary School and Mayo High School was damaged.
School officials say all schools will be open Tuesday, but most will operate on a two hour delay. Click here for the list.
Gov. Mark Sanford also toured the region to survey the damage with state officials. The governor said the storms may not have caused enough overall damage to qualify the area for federal disaster assistance.