HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) – South Carolina was hit hard by tornadoes Monday morning that claimed at least nine lives.
Five people died in Hampton County, where the National Weather Service confirmed damage consistent with an EF3 tornado. With winds of 165 mph, the tornado was on the ground for 24 miles — which is very rare for the area.
The Hampton County Coroner’s Office has identified the victims as Alberto Hernandez, 41 and Rene Rodriguez, 25, both of Estill. News 3 has learned the two were farmworkers.
The coroner also confirmed a Nixville family died in the storm. The deceased are Jim Breland, 59, Donna Breland, 56 and Kayla Breland, 26.
News 3 spoke with Angie Ginn, who said the Brelands are her sister, brother-in-law and niece. On Monday, she visited their now-destroyed home on Ginn Hill Road, finding her sister’s wedding ring, jewelry and family photos.
“I didn’t think I’d wake up and it would be me,” she said of the loss.
Angie Ginn rode out the storm with her husband, Timmy Ginn, and their grandson.
“I was very lucky. Very, very lucky,” Timmy Ginn said. “I would have took mine to save one of theirs if I could have,” Timmy Ginn said.
Dennis Smith has lived in the Nixville area all of his life. The neighborhood was one of the hardest-hit areas.
“I was in Afghanistan and this is worse,” he said.
Smith’s home, as well as his mother’s home, were left shattered.
“You know, it will be put back. But it ain’t going to be the same,” Smith added.
Meanwhile, Hampton County officials are helping coordinate efforts to get residents some help as they recover.
The county is taking food donations for the community and first responders at the Hampton County Recreation Department (361 Pine Street). Call Tammy Thaxton at 803-943-2857 with any questions.
Wayne Evans with Hampton County said they have been in touch with the Red Cross to provide further assistance for those impacted by the severe weather.
County officials say the Red Roof Inn in Yemassee (138 Frampton Drive) is available to those who may be displaced and in need of shelter. Anyone who needs assistance is encouraged to contact the Red Cross directly at 843-764-2323.