Low Country Store, Homes Damaged

Damage and disorder inside the Dollar General.
Damage and disorder inside the Dollar General.

The National Weather Service has not officially ruled it a tornado, but try to convince the residents of Hampton, South Carolina, that the storm which struck their town just after midnight this morning was anything but. The Dollar General store was severely damaged.

"Support beams are twisted up like pretzels," said manager Paul Brown. "About two-thirds of the roof is completely gone."

The storm knocked the front doors off the store and knocked merchandise off the ground.

"If you saw all the pictures of the war in Iraq, like what a smart bomb did, that's what it looked like," said Brown. "It just zeroed us out."

Officials say they believe the tornado actually touched down in the storage area and restroom, sucking the rest of the building in. Not only did this tornado destroy the store, but it also knocked down a number of trees and damaged homes in the area.

"A tree crashed through the dining room and the lights went out, so we couldn't see what was going on" said homeowner Phyllis Harvey. "I think that's the longest one or two minutes I've ever spent in my life. And the scariest."

But many are just thankful that the storm didn't cause any serious injuries or deaths. Damages have not been calculated yet, and the Dollar General store will rebuild or relocate.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com