SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) – The National Weather Service confirmed Friday a trail of damage spanning more than 10 miles along the US 29 corridor in Spartanburg was caused when a tornado touched down on Thursday.
The National Weather Service began surveying the damage Friday morning and said there was clear evidence that a tornado hit the area.
The path of the tornado began west of I-26, continued down past the WestGate Mall, and beyond.
Steve Wilson with the National Weather Service was at the Crown Pointe Apartments on Powell Mill Road when he spoke to FOX Carolina's photojournalist Alex Schumann about the confirmation.
Wilson said the evidence of a tornado touchdown included:
- Areas of very focused, intense damage
- Convergence of the damage path
- Trees blown back in the opposite direction of the storm
As for the damage, Wilson said what NWS survey teams have observed so far include:
- Extensive tree damage
- Damaged and destruction of elevated signs and metal posts
- Structural damage, mainly to roofs that were either hit by a tree or had roofing material blown off
The NWS has confirmed the tornado was an EF-1 and started in the Wellford area in Spartanburg and ended around Cedar Springs.
The twister traveled 10.26 miles with with maximum wind speeds of 110 mph and a width of 100 yards.
INJURIES FROM THE STORM
There were very few injuries reported in conjunction with the severe weather.
Spartanburg Regional Health System said they treated only six patients for weather-related injuries on Thursday.
A LONG LINE OF DAMAGE
The reports of damage began coming in around 10:30 a.m. Thursday
Two tractor trailers reportedly flipped over along I-26 near W.O. Ezell Boulevard and multiple businesses along the highway were damaged.
FOX Carolina's Jennifer Phillips said the Ingles was closed and had storm damage in the parking lot.
Several power lines were also torn down along the street.
The BP at the corner of 29 and East Blackstock caught the wind whipping items around outside the store and the store sign crashing down to the ground on its surveillance cameras.
Shopping cart collection racks in several shopping centers were smashed, billboards were knocked down, and signs were ripped apart.
The Waffle House on W.O Ezell Boulevard was one of the businesses whose signs was hit hard by the storm. The restaurant also lost power, but the doors stayed open and workers were offering a limited menu, per the manager.
Viewers also sent in photos of multiple downed trees in the WestGate area.
Dozens of trees were torn down at an apartment complex on Powell Mill Road, smashing cars and buildings on the property. Officials hung signs on some of the apartment buildings Friday morning declaring them unsafe structures.
A church along West Main Street was also hit hard, having much of its roof ripped off.
On East Main Street in downtown, the storm shattered the front windows of Groucho's Deli.
Neighborhoods all along US 29, on the west side and the east side of town, saw scores of trees and power lines fall on yards, vehicles, and homes.
One home on Hannon Court in the Converse Heights community was nearly split in half when a huge tree came crashing down on it. Neighbors say the family was sheltering in their basement at the time and no one was hurt.
FOX Carolina got a chance to talk to Bobby Rainwater--a neighbor along Hadden Heights Rd., which was decimated by the tornado.
He says he feels fortunate his home had only minor structural damage on the roof, with loose shingles and siding. He says he saw what he described as a twister barreling down the street, and that it blew a tree in his yard over into a car. He says other neighbors weren't so lucky. At least 2 houses on this block have been labeled unsafe.
Rainwater still waiting on an adjuster to come out here and assess the damage. Many are in his same situation. Ray Farmer is the director of the State Department of Insurance. He says these are the moments they're made for.
"The insurance company--it's their time to shine. This is what they do. This is the reason the homeowner has been paying premiums," Farmer said.
"The deck is--all the furniture is overturned and carpet over it, panels off the pool are missing. But you know...It's all fixable," said Rainwater of the damage to his home.
Farmer's message to people whose homes aren't totally damaged--like
Rainwater--is this: Make any minor repairs you can--until they're able to get out there. He's facilitating claims between local agencies and property owners. Rainwater says that's exactly what they're doing--with a generator to tide them over for the next 48 hours.
Farmer says his department is here to help. If you have a claim to file as a result of storm damage, you can call their toll free number-- 1-800-768-3467. Meanwhile--neighbors Rainwater's plan to reach out to his local insurance company, and says he can't wait till the power comes back on sunday night.