A woman who escaped unhurt after a series of powerful tornadoes swept across South Carolina Monday morning, leaving at least nine people dead, says she survived by “calling on Jesus.”
Rich Okulski, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Columbia, told the Post and Courier that the storm system was the state’s most severe weather event in 12 years with several long-track, violent tornadoes streaking across South Carolina over a six-hour period.
North resident Allison Ritter told The Times and Democrat that she was at home when she heard the howl of the tornado begin to rip through her neighborhood.
"Once I heard that wind blowing, I knew. My children and I were in the house when it happened. I never experienced anything like that before. My mom ended up calling me right before it happened and about five minutes later was when I ran and got my kids," she said.
"I started hearing all the wind blowing, windows breaking, trees cracking, debris just hitting up against the house. It was a lot."
The frightened mom said she gathered her children together, including a newborn, and sheltered in a bathroom. When it was done, she found an uprooted tree and twisted metal scattered outside.
"I just wanted to make sure we were safe. None of the kids knew what was going on. Between all the wind blowing and trees falling, I just kept calling on Jesus. That's all I know to do in a case like this. He just kept His hand over us," Ritter said.
Ritter’s neighbors, Robert Logan Moss and his wife, Jennifer, weren’t as lucky as their home, part of which landed in Ritter’s backyard, was a total loss. They had to be dragged from the wreck and rushed to the hospital.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said the tornadoes were an extra hit on the people of his state already battling the impact of the new coronavirus but insisted that they would rebuild.
“We saw more tragedy in the midst of what is already one of the most trying times our state has endured. We lost at least 9 precious lives across South Carolina last night to the tornadoes that swept through our state,” he said in a statement on Twitter. “They left in their wake utter destruction, but the one thing they could not destroy is the spirit of our people. We will rebuild after these storms just as we do after hurricanes and how we are battling the Coronavirus—together.”