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Campers Recount Harrowing Night

August 15, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Western South Carolina’s Anderson County received some damage late Friday (Aug. 12)  after a storm pounded parts of the area, WSPA-TV, Spartanburg, S.C., reported.

The Crescent Cove Campground on Highway 29 suffered damages from high winds. A camper with seven people inside was flipped over during the storm near Hartwell Lake. Two of the people were able to get out, the other five were trapped.

Michelle Owens and her family were just sitting down to eat dinner. She says the wind picked up and the lightning began getting bad, so the seven members of her family including her father, who is paralyzed from waist down, got inside their small camper. She says the camper began rocking and then flipped over. Everything in the camper landed on top of them. After it was over, they had to push their way through all the debris inside and some of them were able crawl out through a window.

“The camper started rocking and then it flipped over and everything flipped on top of us. The power box landed on top of my daddy. (pause) Everything…the furniture…everything just rolled on top of us. We’re lucky to be alive.”

Firefighters used chainsaws to cut their way into the campground. EMS crews had a hard time getting to the injured due to the numerous trees down across the roads. Capt. David Payton with the Iva Rescue Squad said they had to find other ways to get aid to the injured as quick as possible.

Payton says four people out of the seven  inside the camper were transported by ambulance.

On Saturday everyone was OK and released from the hospital.

The family said the incident was extremely scary and everyone is sore. They began to clean up the mess, finding everything inside the camper destroyed.

One woman was able to find wedding rings and a prescription drug bottle. A big concern was for Steve McClain who is paralyzed from the waist down.

“We got everyone down on the floor except for me, I’m handicapped, covered them up with blankets and 10 minutes later the trailer was turned on its side,” said Steve and Linda McClain.

Neighbors helped the family flip the camper back over. They’ve been camping there for years, and have never seen a storm like this one.

“I’ve been through a hurricane in Florida and a tornado down in Georgia. This is worse than that ever was. It was twisting the trees not breaking them,” said Pappy and Carol Laire

The campers said they’ll be back to visit the campground again, but they’ll be keeping a close eye on the weather.

That same storm turned what was supposed to be a relaxing camping getaway into a harrowing experience for two families nearby in east Georgia.

“The camper rocked and quivered,” said Easley resident Revonda Harbert, who was staying with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and grandson at the Watsadler Campground on the Georgia side of the Hartwell Lake dam. “Then all of the sudden it was like we dropped.”

Harbert said a tree hit the back of their 18-foot camping trailer, knocking it off its supporting jack. Another tree fell on top of their van, crushing it, the Anderson Independent Mail reported.

“I’ve never been in a storm like that,” said Harbert, 56, who expressed relief that no one was hurt.

The day-use area at the Singing Pines Recreation Area on the south end of Hartwell Lake was closed Saturday while U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crews removed several fallen trees. Numerous trees also fell Friday night near Easley, Fair Play and Liberty, according to the National Weather Service.

Doug Outlaw, a weather service meteorologist at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, said the damage at the campground probably resulted from strong straight-line winds associated with two storm cells that merged while drifting south around 10 p.m. Friday.

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