Tornado cleanup continues

Crews clear storm debris from Brownswood Road after a tornado Friday left a swath of damage through Johns Island and West Ashley.

Cleanup efforts continued Saturday to repair the damage left behind by a tornado that skipped across Johns Island and West Ashley early Friday morning.

Communities along Sonny Boy Lane and Old Pond, River and Fickling Hill roads received the brunt of the impact from the twister, which the National Weather Service categorized as an EF-2 with 130-mph wind.

Department of Transportation crews worked late into the night Saturday to clear roads and restore the flow of traffic in the affected areas, spokesman James Law said.

“Trees and debris are still in the roadway and we’re having to cut some of the limbs out of the way,” he said.

By day’s end, only Old Pond Road remained closed, Charleston County Sheriff’s Maj. Eric Watson said.

“Cleanup efforts in the affected areas will continue at daybreak (Sunday),” Watson said. “Our deputies will continue to increase patrols ... throughout tonight and tomorrow.”

Power, too, was mostly restored to roughly 4,000 homes left in the dark in the tornado’s wake.

“All major storm related damage has been restored in terms of the outages,” said Berkeley Electric Cooperative spokesman Micah Ponce.

“There are still a handful of folks out there who still have their power out,” Ponce said, “but in a lot of those cases they have to have some inspections done before we can turn them back on because of structural damage.”

The cleanup effort helped residents such as Peggy Anne Simmons, 72, of River Road.

Simmons recalled waking from slumber at 1:03 a.m. Friday and seeing a weather alert on her cellphone.

She and a housemate took shelter in a bathroom as the twister approached, knocking down trees on the edge of the property.

“It was that train sound that I’ve always heard about — I’ve never experienced it before,” Simmons said. “We could hear bad things happening, but we didn’t know what.”

After the winds subsided, the pair walked outside to total darkness. “We were petrified,” Simmons said.

The tornado nearly leveled a home and damaged 80 others. American Red Cross volunteers offered hotel stays to four families whose homes were left uninhabitable.

“We just feel so fortunate. Thank God, as far as we all know, no one got injured,” she said.