Seneca, South Carolina Strong

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Austin Jones

This image displays one of the houses impacted by the tornado (Photo courtesy of Austin Jones).

In the midst of all the current chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, tornadoes were the last thing on anyone’s mind. But sadly, some nearby areas were struck with such a disaster overnight. Specifically, Seneca, South Carolina received the biggest impact from it, waking up to destruction and despair. The recovery process is underway, but many are skeptical of how long it may take to bounce back and become stronger together. 

“During the Easter tornado, I was up all night due to multiple tornado warnings our area got. We went down to our basement and watched WYFF on our phones since our power had gone out,” said J.L. Mann senior Kaylee Wolf.

At 3 o’clock in the morning on April 13th, 2020, a tornado touched down for almost 16 miles. Along its path, it ripped trees from the ground and tore houses apart. The damage is hefty as it is estimated to be $250 million, with more than 200 homes completely destroyed and power outages for many. The population for Seneca is around 8,600 people, and every single person was affected. 

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has put an emergency declaration in place as a result of the tornadoes. This is the first time in history that there has been more than one emergency declaration active at the same time. The other declaration right now is fighting the COVID-19 crisis.

“I don’t think they will recover as quickly because people are less likely to go outside and come into contact with other helpers amid coronavirus fears,” said Wolf.

The images of the damage are emotional as you begin to imagine what those individuals must be experiencing. To aid those impacted, there have been many people volunteering to help with cleanup and recovery. However, everyone participating has been trying to stay cautious as social distancing and other coronavirus restrictions are very much active. Despite this, the community and state of South Carolina have come together to show strength and perseverance during this difficult time in the world. 

Two local high school students, Noah Couch and Austin Jones, had the opportunity to be a part of the cleanup and help those who were affected by this natural disaster.

“We only did one house when I went, but there were tons of downed trees that we cut up and dragged to a pile. I thought it was really cool how many people cared to help out and how much we were able to impact this guy’s life because what would have taken him months to do, we accomplished in a few hours,” said Woodmont junior Noah Couch.

“It was a very humbling experience because many of these people have been without electricity for weeks, they had cars crushed, belongings carried off, and their houses destroyed. But, still, many of them were positive and warmed my heart so much because we had people bringing us water and food and doing whatever they could to help us while we were helping them. I think this is my 4th or 5th cleanup trip and these are some of my favorite things to do. I hate that people have to suffer these disasters, but there is nothing I love more than helping people and I know that times like this bring us so much closer,” said Brashier sophomore Austin Jones.

Although we may face challenges, we unite as one and stronger than ever before. It is times like this that show the true human spirit.