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Lexington church damaged, thousands without power after severe storms, possible tornadoes

Powerful storms that rolled through the Midlands Sunday night caused damage and power outages.

Early reports from the storm include downed trees and limbs and standing water in roadways, according to tweets from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. Similar scenes of damage are being reported across the Midlands, according to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

The National Weather Service in Columbia said Monday morning that it “will be sending survey teams out later this morning to assess the damage from yesterday’s storms.”

South Carolina’s storm reports come after at least 23 people died from tornadoes in Alabama and Georgia, the Associated Press reports. “The devastation is incredible,” Lee County, Alabama Sheriff Jay Jones said, according to the AP.

The front of Red Bank Baptist Church was damaged by the storm, as one of the columns was knocked down and another is leaning over. Some other minor damage to the Red Bank Baptist campus included an overturned supply shed.

Around 150 adults and children were at the church Sunday night for normal weekly services when the storm came through, church staff told The State. Those in attendance huddled in a long hallway, with the children singing “Jesus Loves Me.”

More than 8,200 customers lost power in the storms Sunday night, The South Carolina Emergency Management Division tweeted Monday morning. All but about 2,400 of those homes and businesses had power restored by Monday morning, according to the EMD.

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Destiny Hall Wright Submitted

In the St. Andrews area, crews with the Columbia Fire Department responded to numerous calls about storm damage that included knocked down trees and power lines, according to a tweet.

The National Weather Service tweeted Sunday about possible tornadoes in Aiken and Orangeburg counties just after 6 p.m.

Lexington County officials tweeted there were trees that fell on houses in Red Bank and there were multiple reports of downed power lines.

Don’t get out and drive if you don’t absolutely have to. If you absolutely have to drive, go slow,” the S.C. Emergency Management Division tweeted. In another message, it wrote “treat every down power line as if it were live. Avoid it and report to your utility.”

Trees crashed onto a vehicle in the 2400 block of Lincoln Street in Columbia, possibly caused by a tornado, according to a tweet from Midlands Weather.

Trees damaged homes in the 1100 block of Prince Drive and 700 block of Betsy Drive, where there were also reports of down power lines, according to tweets from the Columbia Police Department.

The roof was blown off a house on Zenker Road in Lexington County by a possible tornado, Midlands Weather tweeted.

Another possible tornado caused damage along Saluda River Road in West Columbia where there are reports of downed power lines, Midlands Weather said on Twitter. Other roads with down lines in that area include Betsy Drive, Timothy Road, and Jacob Road, the Columbia Police Department tweeted.

In West Columbia, there was report of a collapsed structure after a tree fell through a house on Skyland Drive, Midlands Weather tweeted.

Just after 7 p.m., RVs were blown over in Lexington County on Glassmaster Road, a tweet from Midlands Weather said.

A home was destroyed on Woodland Road in the Merriweather District, where several trees were knocked down, Midlands Weather reported on Twitter.

In Red Bank, there were multiple reports of trees downed on houses on Lann Circle and Community Drive, Midlands Weather tweeted.

The severe weather is a product of a cold front moving through the Midlands, according to a briefing from the National Weather Service. The threat for severe weather in the Midlands was from 4 p.m. Sunday to midnight.

Reports of tornadoes in the Midlands came fast from just before 7 to 7:30 p.m.

At 6:57 p.m., a possible tornado was spotted in Lexington County, “about 6 miles west of Red Bank near Interstate 20, moving east,” according to a tweet from the NWS.

At 7:04 p.m., a tornado was spotted in Red Bank, and was moving east toward Columbia Metropolitan Airport, NWS posted on Twitter.

At 7:11 p.m., a possible tornado was spotted northwest of the airport, and it was heading east toward the airport and Oak Grove, NWS tweeted.

At 7:17 p.m., a possible tornado was spotted “near Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia,” NWS tweeted, saying the potential tornado was moving northeast toward north Columbia.

At 7:20 p.m., a possible tornado was spotted in north Columbia, near Earlewood Park, and was heading northeast toward Eau Claire, according to a NWS tweet.

At 7:26 p.m., a possible tornado was spotted over Five Points, and was moving at 30 mph, Midlands Weather tweeted.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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