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Tree demolishes Rock Hill home with 5 inside

Hurricane Florence winds cause tree to fall on Ebenezer Avenue house in Rock Hill, SC

Nicole Sanchez and her four kids were okay, but their house on Ebenezer Ave. extension in Rock Hill, S.C., was not okay after a tree fell on it early Saturday morning, Sept. 15, 2018. The outer band of Hurricane Florence reached the area late Friday.
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Nicole Sanchez and her four kids were okay, but their house on Ebenezer Ave. extension in Rock Hill, S.C., was not okay after a tree fell on it early Saturday morning, Sept. 15, 2018. The outer band of Hurricane Florence reached the area late Friday.

A Rock Hill woman and her four children escaped injury late Friday when a massive tree fell during Tropical Storm Florence and destroyed their home.

The damage was among scattered pockets of trees knocked over and power lines down from the storm as of mid-day Saturday in Rock Hill, Lancaster, Fort Mill, York, and Clover.

Officials said weather conditions will get worse later Saturday and Sunday. Flooding has not been reported, but it is expected in all three counties, officials said.

Rainfall is expected at 1 to 2 inches per hour Saturday, with the heaviest rains expected from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, said Trish Startup, spokesperson for York County.

About 3,000 customers in York, Chester, and Lancaster counties were without power at 11 a.m., official said. More than half of those were in Lancaster County.

Those numbers are expected to rise as more than a half million customers in both Carolinas, where the storm has already hit, are without power, Duke Energy officials said.

Nichole Sanchez and her children ages 14, 12, 11, and 8 were inside the house on Ebenezer Avenue Extension, near Winthrop University in Rock Hill, when a huge oak tree snapped and fell through the roof and walls.

“The tree crashed right through the roof and front right into our living room,” Sanchez said.

“I was laying down between work shifts and heard a crash. I thought maybe the kids had dropped something or broken something but it was the tree from our neighbor’s yard right in the middle of our house. It fell right on top of all of usm” she said.

The children -- Evan, Dominic, Hayley, and Joshua -- were not hurt. Nichole Sanchez said she has asthma and was treated by EMS workers at the scene, but she was not hit by the tree.

“Somehow we were not hurt, and we are thankful for that,” Sanchez said.

The children said, after the initial shock, they are fine. They vowed to help their mom and family endure the storm and the loss of their home.

The home is across Cherry Road, just west of Winthrop University. Sanchez said she rents the house and had moved there in June.

“Now we have to find a place to live. The kids are in school,” she said. “Physically we are okay, but emotionally this has really been hard.”

The family is staying in a hotel. The American Red Cross contacted Sanchez and was set to assist the family Saturday, she said.

The Rock Hill Fire Department responded to the scene and helped the family, said Deputy Chief Mark Simmons.

The fire department had four Florence-related calls through 9 a.m. Saturday that have not had any injuries, Simmons said. A home on Winthrop Drive had a “minor” exterior fire, caused by a downed power line, Simmons said.

Power lines also were down at Main Street and Albright Road, and in the 1600 block of Main Street.

A major highway in Lancaster County, U.S. 521 south of Lancaster, was blocked except for emergency vehicles after a tree fell on power lines, said Darren Player, Emergency Management Director.

Lancaster County reported more than 25 trees down.

Player said a home was damaged Saturday morning when a tree fell on it on Santa Barbara Road. No injuries were reported in that incident; power crews are responding.

Chester County asked hundreds of residents in areas near downtown Chester that are flood-prone to evacuate. More than 75 people are staying in shelters at Chester Middle School and Lewisville Middle School.

Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065, @AndrewDysHerald
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