Spared: Barnwell County avoids worst of severe storms

Residents in Barnwell County and the entire southeast hunkered down last week, waiting for a destructive line of storms to move through the area on Wednesday, April 5.

Luckily, Barnwell County was spared the tornadoes and destructive weather experienced elsewhere.

National Weather Service prognosticators warned the public Monday and Tuesday that the storms expected to move through South Carolina on Wednesday could create 80 mph winds, ping-pong size hail, torrential rain and lots of lightning.

Emergency Management personnel on both the state and local levels said the storms could come through in three waves - one around midday, another between 3 and 9 p.m. and another after 11 p.m. with the middle wave as the most dangerous.

A "Potentially Dangerous Storm" warning was issued which EMD Director Roger Riley said is "almost unheard of."

Barnwell County's Emergency Operations Center was partially activated with representatives from law enforcement, EMS, fire, county government, public works and churches on hand.

Riley said shelters were not opened as they are not built to withstand a tornado. "This was a different kind of storm," he said.

People living in mobile homes in particular were advised to seek safe shelter before the storm arrived.

Schools released students before midday, governments sent non-essential personnel home in the early afternoon, some businesses closed and everyone watched for weather updates.

A shift in the storm winds resulted in counties northwest of Barnwell to experience damage as well as those is southeast Georgia but Barnwell County saw only non-damaging rain and wind.

"We were very lucky that we escaped the serious weather," said Riley.

"I want to thank Medshore, City of Barnwell Fire Chief, the Barnwell County Sheriff's Office and public works for manning the EOC," said Riley. He also thanked The People-Sentinel for posting information to the public.