Tornado Memories Still Alive 30 Years Later

Winnsboro, SC (WLTX) -- March 28, 1984 is a date many in the Midlands will never forget, especially residents of Newberry and Fairfield counties.

That Wednesday afternoon in March several tornadoes tore through Newberry and Winnsboro leaving behind lots damage and even death.

The strongest of those tornadoes was an F-4 that hit Winnsboro, the storm still has people talking 30 years later.

"We began to notice trash in the trees and power lines down, the highway patrol was routing everybody back towards town, they told us we couldn't go and I said, I live down this road," said Mary Jim Gunter.

Gunter and her family luckily were not in their home when the tornado with estimated winds between 207 and 260 mph ripped through their house, she says she wasn't surprised with what she found.

"I was expecting it to look pretty much the way it did because Eddie Yongue was down in the valley cutting trees and he is the one that told me my house wasn't there anymore," said Gunter.

The tornado continued to tear through homes, businesses and even two schools, the worst hit was Richard Winn Academy.

"The school was virtually gone, it was destroyed," said Vickie Robinson.

Robinson taught at the small private school, she is thankful the late afternoon storm didn't hit a few hours earlier when students and staff would have been in the building.

"It would have been catastrophic if it would have happen while school was going on, because the only place the children had to go was out in the halls or under their desks," said Robinson.

The 1984 outbreak produced 11 tornadoes, killing 15 and injuring nearly 450 in South Carolina alone, damage estimates have been over $100 million dollars.

In North Carolina an additional 42 people were killed by the storms.

The tornado outbreak produced a total of 24 tornadoes in North and South Carolina, including 7 F4 storms.

Robinson said, "Everybody was lucky to get off relatively scot-free."


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