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Tornado Causes Major Damage At South Carolina High School

Updated 3 p.m. Monday

No injuries were reported Saturday night after a tornado severely damaged a South Carolina high school.

An EF-2 tornado hit North Central High in Kershaw, S.C., on Saturday night.
Credit Kershaw County Sheriff's Office
Kershaw County Sheriff's Office
An EF-2 tornado hit North Central High in Kershaw, S.C., on Saturday night.

The tornado struck North Central High in Kershaw, about 55 miles southeast of Charlotte, as severe weather moved through the Carolinas.

The Kershaw County Sheriff's Office shared photos showing debris strewn throughout the school and buses that were blown into each other by the powerful wind. Images shared by the National Weather Service show twisted pieces of metal, collapsed walls and sections of a roof that were blown away.

The tornado that struck the high school in Kershaw was a "high-end" EF-2 with winds of about 130 mph, meteorologists with the National Weather Service's Columbia office said.

Kershaw County School District Executive Director Mary Anne Byrd said staff is still assessing the damage – but said she was thankful no one was hurt.

"It's horrific," Byrd told reporters in a video posted to the school's Facebook page. " It's heartbreaking, but we are blessed. We're blessed that there was no one on campus."

An EF-2 tornado hit North Central High in Kershaw, S.C., on Saturday night.
Credit National Weather Service / @NWSColumbia/Twitter
An EF-2 tornado hit North Central High in Kershaw, S.C., on Saturday night.

Byrd told WFAE repairs could take months. 

"We’ve lost the majority of our school buses, over 30 on that site, the front office area is devastated, the media center is gone, the football stadium and bleachers were torn up and the scoreboard is down," Byrd said Monday. "There was extensive damage across the campus."

Byrd says the high school students will be moved to the district’s former vocational and technology building that was used up until this summer and replaced with a new facility this school year. She says it is large enough to accommodate all of the students and staff.

The state has provided 27 buses to replace those destroyed, which Byrd says will meet their needs. Officials are also having debris removed to make it safe for teachers to enter the building on Tuesday to retrieve what they can to take to the temporary location. Byrd says it will probably be 18 months or more before repairs are made on the school building and ground and students can return to the campus.

The National Weather Service had warned of the possibility of tornadoes as the storms moved through the Carolinas.

In western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina, power outages and wind damage were reported, according to the National Weather Service.

In the southeast, bad weather also hit Alabama and Georgia.

At least 11 people were killed in severe weather Saturday across the U.S., including three people who died during a tornado in Pickens County, Alabama.

Dash joined WFAE as a digital editor for news and engagement in 2019. Before that, he was a reporter for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia, where he covered public safety and the military, among other topics. He also covered county government in Gaston County, North Carolina, for its local newspaper, the Gazette.
Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.