WLTX-TV
North Central High tornado

South Carolina high school badly damaged in tornado

Jan. 14, 2020
No one was injured, but 500 students were displaced by the storm that struck North Central High in Kershaw County Saturday night.

A high school in rural South Carolina was badly damaged over the weekend by a tornado.

The Columbia State reports that North Central High School, a 500-student high school in Kershaw County and about 45 miles outside Columbia.

The timing of the tornado was fortunate; no one was present at the school Saturday night when the storm hit.

Students already were scheduled to have Monday and Tuesday off because of teacher work days. A nearby middle school was only minimally damaged by the storm, and students will be able to return there Wednesday.. No homes in the area of the school were reported damaged.

On Monday, school district officials and reclamation crews worked on assessing the damage, cleaning up debris and determining what materials could be saved.

[RELATED: A list of needs for teachers at North Central High.]

North Central teachers and staff got to work in their temporary home, a former district vocational center.

High school principal David Branham met with his staff Monday morning, as they “cried a little bit and laughed a little bit about everything going on.

“For a lot of our kids, (school) is the most stable place they have,” says Branham. “We may be in a different location, but we’re going to create the same kind of family atmosphere that our school is known for.”

The tornado hit with 130-mile-an-hour winds. It left a trail of damage at the 40-year-old school, including gaping holes in brick walls, smashed buses, busted windows, ripped ceilings, collapsed bleachers and debris strewn inside and outside the school.

It was too soon Monday to estimate the cost of damage at the school.

The school’s main office, library and drama spaces took the hardest hits. Some classrooms suffered significant damage, but others were mostly untouched.

Immediate priorities also included assessing damage to school buses—around 30 were damaged, and some were complete losses. The state education department has provided at least 27 replacement buses for North Central students and for the local middle and elementary school students who also rely on them.

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