The sight was still a jarring one for Matt Anderson as he stared Thursday at the 100-foot-tall tree that had crashed through the roof and second floor of his family’s Rock Hill home the night before.
“I didn’t even come out here to look and see what this was until well after the fire department was here,” he said. “Right now is really the first I’m looking at what there is. It’s still hard to process.”
Anderson wasn’t home when the tree fell, but his wife and children were in the kitchen. They were not injured.
“She called me on the phone, and I couldn’t understand what she was saying at first,” he said. “She’s still pretty shaken up.”
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No tornadoes were confirmed after Wednesday’s severe thunderstorm, according to Lauren Visin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greenville. The weather and damage were more consistent with a microburst – a small-scale sinking column of air within a thunderstorm.
“It’s not particularly uncommon during the summertime when you get these stronger storms coming through,” she said. Wednesday’s storm generated winds up to 60 mph and brought about 2 inches of rain to Rock Hill in a short amount of time.
“Lots of heavy precipitation will, all at once, fall out of the cloud. That will help accelerate the push of the storm,” Visin said. “Normally it’s very fast and very localized, maybe only a minute or two.”
Anderson was busy Thursday talking with builders and his insurance company. Once the tree is removed, they will evaluate the home’s foundation.
The American Red Cross is helping the Anderson family with temporary shelter, and their insurance company is expected to help them after that, Anderson said.
Power outages were widespread during and after Wednesday’s storm. About 5,600 customers were without power when the outages peaked in Rock Hill, said city spokeswoman Katie Quinn. A few hundred customers were still without power Thursday morning.
York Electric Cooperative peaked at about 3,000 outages, said Marc Howie, vice president of community development. Most of those outages were in the India Hook and Tirzah areas, and all outages were restored by Thursday morning.
Duke Energy had thousands of outages reported in York, Chester and Lancaster counties. An exact number was not available. Only a few outages remained Thursday in York County.
Public Safety Communications received about 30 calls for service related to the storm, according to Ralph Merchant, operations manager. Most of the calls came from the Rock Hill and Newport areas.
Most of the calls were for down trees and power lines.
First responders rescued a boater who was stranded on Lake Wylie during the storm, Merchant said.
Laurel Creek appeared to be one of the hardest-hit areas in Rock Hill, with trees down on nearly every street and multiple homes sustaining minor damage.
“It would get really strong and then it would die off a little bit, and dadgum, it’d get strong again,” John Hipp said while clearing his Landfall Drive driveway with a leaf blower. “I hadn’t seen wind like that since (Hurricane) Hugo. We were in Charlotte when Hugo came along.”
Landscaping crews that had planned to come to the neighborhood for routine maintenance Thursday instead spent the day clearing storm debris, said Mike Hauss, president of the Blakeley Homeowners Association. The powerful winds in Wednesday’s storm bent a street sign in the area and ripped a stop sign from the same pole. The sign was later found several houses down the road.
Teddy Kulmala • 803-329-4082