Five people were injured and more than a dozen mobile homes damaged when a tornado reportedly touched down in the Strawberry Mobile Home Park in the Pimlico community between Moncks Corner and Goose Creek Saturday night.
The tornado was spawned by severe weather that moved through the Lowcountry, bringing wind, rain and hail, according to the National Weather Service.
Captain Ted Bouthiller with the Pimlico Fire Department said five people at the mobile home park had minor injuries, and two of them were taken to Trident Medical Center for treatment.
Damage reports started coming in at the Berkeley County Sheriff's office around 8:30 p.m. At 8:40 p.m. there were reports of a tornado touchdown on Renee Circle at the mobile home park. The tornado appeared to skip over Highway 52 and land in the mobile home park, according to Captain Ted Bouthiller with the Pimlico Fire Department.
He said there are about 50 mobile homes in the park. Two of those had extensive damage, six had moderate damage, and six had slight damage, he said. Bouthiller said some of the homes with minor damage included those with windows blown out.
A few minutes after the storm hit the mobile home park, there was a report of another tornado at Action Auto Sales, 3223 South Live Oak Drive.
Authorities said there were no injuries there and moderate damage, but there was a boat in the road near the business.
Tornadoes also were reportedly spotted at Folly Beach and Yonges Island, the weather service said. Motorists also reported a tree across Interstate 26 near mile marker 194.
Soon after the reported touchdown in the mobile home park, people came to check on their relatives
Alex Strickland, 135 Dale Lane, has lived in a single-wide there for about three years with his wife Stephanie and their son James, age 10, and the family dog, a 1-year-old Pomeranian named Andy.
Stephanie Strickland had just come home from church. She said her mother had called her from Cross and suggested the family pack a bag and come up there because the weather was getting bad. She was in the bedroom trying to pack an overnight bag and her husband was in the front of the home.
"All I heard was 'shoosh,'' she said. She was trying to reach the bathroom to take shelter. "I didn't even make it into the tub," she said.
Alex was in the living room at the front of the trailer. "It took the floor from underneath me. I was holding on for dear life," he said, "onto anything I could get ahold of."
He fell through the floor, losing a shoe in the process, and ended up in the backyard. Debris fell in on him when he went through the floor, and he had cuts and scratches on his legs and a cut on the bridge of his nose.
James huddled by the door under a blanket. He was glad the family dog wasn't hurt. "It's like God put a force field around him," James said.
Ed Barrow II lives at 123 Dale Lane, said his home was spared, but that in addition to the trailers that were damaged, "I know that the rest are knocked off their blocks."
He and his girlfriend and her son had just returned home from dinner when the tornado hit.
"All we felt was a little jiggle," he said. "The trailer wobbled a little bit. That was it."
His girlfriend went outside and told him to come out with a flashlight.
"It just hit and ran through," he said. "It's a mess back there. Some homes, it took the siding off and wrapped it around the power lines. It's going to take a couple of days to get this straightened out.
Thomas Rainwater also lives in the mobile home park.
His front door was locked. "I had to put my back against it and push against the wall to keep it closed. It was trying to blow the door open," he said.
"I have flowers on my porch that are still right there."
Rainwater said several of his children, ages 5-14, were in the mobile home with him. One of his daughters, a 5-year-old clad in sleeper-jumper pajamas, was clinging to Rainwater with her arms wrapped tightly around him.
Margie Harrell, Rainwater's mother, lives at 135 Renee Circle with her dog, Bella. "It like to have scared her to death," she said.
She saw on the TV that rough weather was coming, and then the cable went out. She turned off the computer in the bedroom and was in the process of turning off and unplugging all the electrical appliances when the storm hit.
"I just laid down on the floor between the love seat and the couch and covered myself with a pillow," she said. "It blew the air conditioners out.
It blew them all out of the living room, dining room, and my bedroom. It was just a big gush of wind."
Then a tree fell and came through the living room.
"It blew my shed to a thousand pieces. I stayed on the floor until it was over. It didn't last no time."
Harrell is familiar with tornadoes because she's from Oklahoma, but this is her first time living through one. She planned to stay with her son Saturday night.
Berkeley County's Mass Casualty Response Team brought a full-sized bus to the park around 9:30 p.m. to give residents shelter until the American Red Cross arrived.
The area was searched and North Charleston brought a cadaver dog to check, but there were no fatalities, Bouthiller said.
While authorities checked the mobile home park, relatives and friends waited at a nearby gas station.
Jeanie Edwards' brother Ricky Randolph lives in the trailer park. He wasn't home when the storm hit, she said, and she was trying to get down there to see how he was doing.
"My brother, he works hard," she said. "He don't have a lot."
Her boyfriend, Victor Sizemore, said Randolph had been in the back of a Berkeley County Sheriff's patrol car because he wanted to check on his home and they wouldn't let him. "He said he was headed home, and he didn't have a home. I don't know," Sizemore said.
After the storm, about 50 or 60 people, residents and people who came to check on friends and loved ones, were standing outside the manager's mobile home. Around 10 p.m. the manager, who was identified as Betty Mizzell, asked everybody to gather around and said the Red Cross was on the way. "Whatever it takes, you will be taken care of," Mizzell said.
The Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross was preparing early Sunday morning to open an emergency shelter that could serve up to 200 people at the Goose Creek Community Center on Highway 52 near the police department, according to Louise Welch, the chapter's executive director.
Mercedes Bruce, shelter manager, said around 12:30 a.m. Sunday that they were expecting a bus with about 10 people. She was waiting for health services to come out in case people need medication.
Goose Creek police officers were helping set up green cots in the gymnasium.
The Red Cross was at the mobile home park offering food and drink to residents and was working with the county to arrange transportation to the center.
Sharon Huffman carries her dog, Ruffs, out of the rubble of her destroyed trailer at the Strawberry Mobile Home Park late Saturday evening. She was not injured, but she lost a bird during the possible tornado.×
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