Residents prepare for cleanup following storms in the Pee Dee

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Darlington, SC - DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - Many people in Darlington County were waiting out the nighttime hours to see what damage an April storm left in its path. From Lamar to Society Hill, residents and visitors found tree limbs and roof damage.

Throughout the night, cleanup crews and power companies worked to restore order after storms tore through the county, leaving downed trees and power lines, damaged roofs and things in places they shouldn't be.

"Me, my mom and dad ran to the bathroom. I heard it coming," said Darlington resident Patrick Brown. "Sounded like a freight train, whistling."

Russell Johnson, also of Darlington, agree: "It was  like a train, like a freight train, and I ran in the house making sure everything was locked down."

Those who had damage were out seeing how much there was. Tyrone Samuel and some friends heard there was damage to a friend's shop and found a neighbor's shed scattered across and empty lot, hundreds of feet away.

Many residents are comparing the damage to what they saw in 1989 with Hurricane Hugo. As the moon faded to daybreak Monday, they realized a long day of cleanup lies ahead.

Darlington Mayor Tony Watkins says most power has been restored in the South Carolina city but two schools will remain closed for several days because of storm damage.

Watkins says he thinks the region will qualify for emergency federal aid.

Linwood Epps, spokesman for the Darlington County Emergency Management, confirmed three people were transported to a Hartsville hospital with minor injuries and there had been numerous reports of tornado touchdowns throughout the county Sunday night. He said the storm had not yet been confirmed as a tornado strike, but it seemed to be.

Epps says three or four mobile homes were overturned and trees were down, noting the hardest hit area of the county was near downtown Darlington.

Darlington County Schools spokeswoman Audrey Childers said the storms and damage has forced the closure of several schools, and put others on a two-hour delay. Schools in Hartsville, Lamar and Society Hill as well all district offices will operate on a two-hour delay Monday; schools in the Darlington area will be closed, including Brockington Elementary School, Brunson-Dargan Elementary School, Cain Elementary School, Darlington County Intervention School, Darlington High School, Darlington Middle School, Mayo High School for Math, Science & Technology, Pate Elementary School, St. John's Elementary School and Darlington Adult Education offices.

Childers said power was out at a number of schools, and Mayo and Cain suffered damage their roofs.

Officials with South Carolina Emergency Management estimate damage to school district buildings at $2 million.

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