‘It was wild’: Newberry residents cleaning up after storm rips through town Saturday night

Updated: Aug. 19, 2019 at 6:40 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEWBERRY COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Nearly 48 hours after severe storms made their way through parts of Newberry County, residents continue to clean up the damage left behind.

As of Monday morning, nearly 190 people in the city of Newberry were still without power, but county officials said that number has decreased throughout the day as crews continue to restore downed power lines.

Sustained winds of 45 miles per hour were recorded at the airport, with gusts as high as 51 miles an hour. Residents say the high winds were accompanied by heavy rain and hail.

“It scared me so bad I climbed in the back seat with my pillow and blanket and the next thing you know, this van was a rocking!” Newberry resident Samantha Harris said. “I mean it was just going and going and going! And I thought oh my God lord just see me through this.”

Dozens of oak trees fell across the city, with some of the worst damage on the city’s westside, where lifelong residents said a 1984 tornado did the most damage.

“It was something to see, it looked like one of the pictures after a hurricane when you see all the power lines snapped off and power lines down and tangled up in the trees,” Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said. “The men and women working to restore power for our residents was incredible. They worked around the clock beginning Saturday night.”

Several houses along Drayton Street saw trees come through their roofs causing extensive damage. Volunteers from Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia helped one homeowner remove a large oak tree that had fallen through the house during the storm.

“We come out here for free and help people,” said Chris Hutto, a volunteer with the church’s disaster relief team. “We take trees of their houses and hopefully show them the loving and kindness of Jesus Christ. The actual tree work, we go at it step by step, piece by piece, until its gone. A lot of standing back and looking at the tree until we figure out which way it’s going to go.”

Hutto along with several other church volunteers arrived at the home at 7:30 a.m Monday and didn’t leave until 6 p.m., despite trying to beat the afternoon heat.

“It’s rewarding,” he said. “We’ve helped so many people in the past that have not ever known the name of Jesus Christ and afterward, they’re asking, ‘You’re going to come out here and help me in this 100-degree weather for free?’ Yeah, we will, we love you that much and we love the community that much that we will.”

Many lifelong residents of Newberry said the damage caused by Saturday’s storms rivals the damage left after the 1984 tornado.

“This is up there,” Sheriff Foster said. “The amount of private property damage is extensive.”

The Red Cross is assisting families in need of basic necessities following the storm.

Copyright 2019 WIS. All rights reserved.