Sheriff, survivor recalls 1994 tornado that damaged close to 200 - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Sheriff, survivor recall 1994 tornado that damaged close to 200 homes, businesses

Posted: Updated:

In 1994, a strong F3 tornado devastated part of Lexington damaging close to 200 homes and businesses.

A lot has changed in the last 20 years, but the way the storm was handled by emergency crews is still being considered one of the smoothest, albeit, and scariest events responders have managed and lived through.          

"All of a sudden it got really dark," said Alice Harmon, a survivor who remembers that summer day when that tornado hit. "I never been in a tornado before. I witnessed it on television and on the news, but not like this. God works miracles, I tell you. We're lucky we came out of there."

An F3 tornado tore through parts of Lexington that summer day and left a brunt of the damage near the Bi-Lo shopping plaza off 378 and surrounding neighborhoods.

"When I went to the basement I was shaking and crying and praying," said Harmon. And I think the Lord, I know the Lord was with me."

The 85-year-old woman remembers her husband calling, warning her of the tornado that was about to hit.

"It was like a disaster area, Harmon added. "We lost 105 trees and it was terrible."

 There wasn't much time to prepare for the damage that was about to hit the area. During all the chaos, Sheriff James Metts says crews had to quickly re-route traffic, secure the perimeter and get people to safety.

"They knew where to go, what to do to get the shelters open, getting the EOC open, providing security, getting the traffic flowing," said Sheriff Metts.

Metts still credits their emergency plan, but says today's plan is even stronger.

"We're better equipped with equipment," Sheriff Metts added. "We're better equipped with communication and we also have a better center to work out of so we can get information out to everyone a lot quicker."

The department coordinated with agencies across the state, evacuated buildings and prepared for the worst.

"I think we have a better networking all together new compared to 1994," said Sheriff Metts. "But I can't really complain a lot about 1994 because it went extremely well. We were very fortunate and it ran real smooth."

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow