A possible tornado struck a five-mile area near Conway and Loris Wednesday afternoon damaging homes, knocking down trees, blocking roads and ripping up power lines leaving more than 1,000 residents without electricity.
The wind storm began close to Booth’s Christmas Tree Farm on Adrian Highway and moved sporadically along five miles of the road to S.C. Highway 66, said Lisa Bourcier, Horry County spokeswoman.
At least four homes are uninhabitable due to roof damage or because the house was blown off the foundation, Bourcier said. No injuries were reported.
Jane Cannon’s home was one of homes destroyed Wednesday afternoon.
Cannon dug through rubble looking for a small framed photo of her late parents that had been on her bedside table. She couldn’t find it under what had been her walls, roof and heaps of unrecognizable debris in what was her bedroom.
She was in that bedroom moments before she heard a storm approaching. She walked into her bathroom to hang up some clothes when she realized it was more than rain on New Home Circle outside of Conway on Wednesday afternoon.
“I got in the bathtub,” she said looking around at her neighborhood scattered in the open fields. “I heard the popping and the cracking, the wind, the doors falling, the windows busting out, the glass breaking. It was awful.”
Her son and his family lives across the street. None of the Cannons were injured, she said. Even Charlie the cat was rescued from beneath a fallen barn and had escaped injury.
“I was praying,” Cannon said. “We’re all OK.”
Looking for the photograph, Cannon said a small glass angel figurine was near the photograph and it was found unbroken, inside a bowl in the dining room.
Across the street, Jeff Cannon cradled his weeping daughter Ava as he reassured her everything was going to be fine.
“She’s tender-hearted,” Ava’s mother Myra Cannon said.
Ava was at school when the storm ripped through her family’s property destroying a barn and her grandmother’s home. Myra Cannon said she’d just stepped out of the shower and heard the freight-train sound of an approaching tornado. She and a few neighbors found Charlie under the destroyed barn.
“We got him out, with a coaxing, but he’s out and fine. I think you just used up one of your lives,” she said cradling the gray cat. “It looks like it takes an act of nature to get me to clean out the barn though.”
Several other homes off New Home Circle were damaged Wednesday. A nearby horse barn had the roof peeled off, but no horses were injured or missing. Two chimneys collapsed at one home. Several mobile homes were muddied and pieces peeled off frozen to track the direction of the wind when it hit. One mobile home had crushed blocks beneath it and was slightly askew on its’ foundation. Mismatched pieces of roofs and shingles were strung out around the houses.
“I think that may be my roof,” one woman said pointing at the pieces of stuff stuck to the fence surrounding a baseball field at White Oak Park.
New Home Circle is located off Adrian Highway.
A few miles away at Dorman Crossroads several other families surveyed the storm damage at their homes. Two sheds were mangled and strewn across Highway 19 while a man busied himself checking on boxes of damaged bee hives.
The number of structures impacted and the financial damage caused by the storm will be determined Thursday.
Officials from the National Weather Service will also be on the scene Thursday to determine whether the wind storm was a tornado.
No tornado warnings were issued from the National Weather Service (NWS) prior to when the storm struck Horry County just before noon.
Steve Pfaff, NWS meteorologist in Wilmington, said they received unconfirmed reports of possible tornadoes in the Longwood and Shallotte areas.
“If people do encounter any damage, just be aware there could be downed power lines and areas where it may be unsafe,” Pfaff said.
Brian Van Aernem of the Horry County Fire Department said damage was reported in the Allsbrook and Red Bluff area stretching north along Highway 905.
Downed trees, power lines and structural damage was also reported on Hucks Road, and a barn was damaged on Adrian Highway.
Sections of Adrian Highway were closed due to downed trees and power lines from Sabrina Lane to Highway 19, and power lines were knocked down on Highway 1124 near Loris.
Numerous power trucks from Horry Electric Cooperative were in the impacted areas within an hour of the storm’s passing to restore power to at least 1,200 customers. By 5 p.m., electricity was restored to all but a dozen customers.
Reporters Chloe Johnson, Christian Boschult, Emily Weaver, and Elizabeth Townsend contributed to this report.