Charleston storm heavily damages 10 homes; no injuries

JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A severe storm quickly moved through a neighborhood on the South Carolina coast, heavily damaging ten homes early Friday.

The storm knocked trees on to roofs and blew out windows around 1 a.m., but authorities reported no injuries or deaths.

This photo provided by WCSC-TV shows storm damage in Johns Island, area in Charleston, S.C. The National Weather Service says a likely tornado has ripped siding off homes and downed trees in the Charleston area. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Meteorologist Douglas Berry says radar and damage reports indicate a tornado probably touched down in Charleston County early Friday, Sept. 25, 2015.  (AP Photo WCSC-TV via AP)
This photo provided by WCSC-TV shows storm damage in Johns Island, area in Charleston, S.C. The National Weather Service says a likely tornado has ripped siding off homes and downed trees in the Charleston area. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Meteorologist Douglas Berry says radar and damage reports indicate a tornado probably touched down in Charleston County early Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo WCSC-TV via AP)

Officials from the National Weather Service planned to walk through the neighborhood on Johns Island about a dozen miles west of Charleston to determine if the damage was from a tornado.

Meteorologists issued a tornado warning several minutes before the storm, and radar returns indicated a tornado in the area, blowing debris high into the air.

Most of the damage happened on Sonny Boy Lane, where John Bercik awoke to heavy rain, then jumped from his bed as “it started to howl like a train.”

“When the roar started I was terrified. It was a very intense moment,” Bercik said.

By the time he made it out of his bedroom door, the rest of the house was gone — walls blown in, roof missing and the floor spun and moved off the piers the home sat on. He had to find an umbrella to keep the rain off as he searched his living room for his cellphone.

Bercik’s house was the most severely damaged. Others had trees on roofs or shingles blown off. Dozens of volunteers were helping cut damaged trees with chain saws.

The severe storm was isolated. Meteorologists said the biggest threat Friday was flooding from heavy rain and from onshore winds during high tides.

Crews had to help some people out of trapped homes, but no one was hurt, said James Ghi, a battalion chief with the St. John’s Fire District.

“Obviously, we’re really thankful,” Ghi said.

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