“The lord has just spared our lives,” families in Williston, SC survive tornado


The National Weather Service confirmed a “large and extremely dangerous tornado” touched down about 7 miles southwest of Williston, SC around 5:40AM Monday morning.

Trees were uprooted or snapped in half, buildings were leveled and homes were damaged. Thankfully, everyone we talked to was alright despite the traumatic experience.

“The lord has just spared our lives and that is the most important,” says Gloria Yonce who lives in the path of Monday morning’s tornado. “We will be ok. These are material things so you can replace things.”

Yonce and her family started the cleanup effort first thing in the morning as soon as the sun came up. Some of the damage will take days, weeks or possibly months to fix.

“We’ve been here soon will be 59 years and we’ve had bad wind and maybe some awning damage, but never anything like this, never,” Yonce says.

Despite all the damage, only one man in the cluster of homes on Cherry Tree Lane was injurred.

“The humongeous pole from my great grandmother’s house came down and then it hit him right there on the side of the head,” says 8-year-old Dylan Birt.

Dylan’s dad more than likely needs stiches in his head. Otherwise, the family is alright, just shaken up.

“I was really scared. I was breathing hard and I was not ok,” Dylan says. “I was very very very scared when I saw my grandma’s house and my aunt’s house and then the trees over there and it was really terrifying for all of us.”

Dylan’s mom Elizabeth describes what she did to protect them.

“It was very scary. I just grabbed him up and was running to the bathtub as fast as I could,” says Elizabeth. “We’re so lucky to be alive, so lucky to be alive because it could have been a whole lot worse.”

Photojournalist Gary Hipps

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