NWS reports EF1 tornado destroyed homes in Florence Co.

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The National Weather Service survey crew members say their preliminary reports show the damage to several overturned mobile homes in the Rosewood Mobile Home Park before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday was caused by an EF-1 tornado.

A tornado survey team from Wilmington arrived in the area just after 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. The team determined that the tornado, which struck between 6:59 p.m. and 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, originated near the National Guard armory near the Florence Memorial Stadium just south of Highway 76.

Seven people were injured, said Captain Mike Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff's Office. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

Preliminary findings show the path of the tornado was three miles in length, 90 yards wide at its peak near the mobile home park with maximum winds at 105 miles per hour, destroying 10 mobile homes.

Survey crews also investigated whether a crash involving multiple vehicles on Interstate 95 was related to the tornado, but noted that the tree lines on each side of the highway showed no signs of damage.

Captain Nunn said a six-year-old girl was trapped under debris, but was eventually rescued and sent to the hospital. Six other people were taken to the hospital after the storm. The ER nurse at McLeod Regional Medical Center says all seven are in good condition.

After further calculations, Emergency Management Coordinator Kristy Hughes determined:

  • 19 homes have minor damage: $31,000 damage total
  • 2 homes major damage: approx. $3,500 total damage
  • 12 homes were destroyed: approx. $52,500 total damage
  • Nine people were injured (all minor injuries)

According to Captain Nunn, there are around 40 residents living in the Rosewood Mobile Home Park, but everyone has been evacuated. The scene will remain closed due to unsafe conditions from the debris and downed power lines. No one is allowed into the mobile home community until officials say that is safe. Crews continued to work through the night to remove debris.

On Tuesday, the American Red Cross opened up a shelter at Wilson High School, located at 1411 Old Marion Highway in Florence, where they  provided food, shelter and emotional support to anyone who was displaced. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the organization said they are closing the shelter, because all of the victims of this tornado decided to stay elsewhere.

By Wednesday afternoon, the Red Cross said they successfully identified and completed case work with all affected families.

"We found a few things that were salvaged that we could actually get out everything else was basically destroyed," said Tamika Holmes.

Tamika Holmes and her family spent the day Wednesday filtering through the pile of debris that was once their home. The family said they were able to find a few personal items, but the majority of their belongs had been destroyed.

"I can't even get to my kids' clothes at all… the back trailer is completely on my son's room, so if were home my kid wouldn't have made it out of that," said Holmes.

Many of the residents who lived the Rosewood Mobile Home Community said they were glad that no one suffered any life threatening injuries.

"I have been down and out so many times and I always got up so this is not the end for me I will be alright," said Holmes.

On Friday, Florence County Emergency Management turned Rosewood Mobile Home Community back over to the property owner. Throughout the day clean-up crew were clearing debris and trying to repair what they could.

" To speed up the process what a claim or a person who has went through the storms that we have had, they need to just go ahead and make up a list of the items that have been damaged," said Jim Harsh.

For more than 40 years Jim Harsh has worked to help people put their lives back together after a natural disaster. Harsh works for Aiken and company in Florence. Harsh said in situations like Tuesday's tornado people should be working to make what repairs they can make to their property, and contacting their insurance agent.

"  The most important thing for them is to protect themselves, the 2nd is they need to make whatever temporary repairs they can make. Get a neighbor go get some plywood, do whatever they need to do to make temporary repairs. The third thing they need to do is call their insurance agent and go ahead and report the claim," said Harsh.

Harsh said there are a few things that most homeowners insurance normally cover.   The structure of your home, personal belongings, liability protection and expenses if you are unable to live inside of your home because of a natural disaster.

Harsh added a typical mistake people often make when filing a major insurance claim is not trusting their insurance adjuster.

" The adjuster is there to find out what he can pay you. Most people think  adjusters are there to try and find exclusions, no that's not the case… they're there to help you do the most," said Harsh.

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