By Alyssa Schnugg
Several homes and vehicles were damaged in Taylor Thursday night after a round of severe thunderstorms rolled in from the west.
Lafayette County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Quarles said the damage was heaviest along County Road 328 where 3 miles of trees and power lines were knocked down and ripped out of the ground.
“Two houses suffered major damage,” he said. “Numerous others have minor to moderate damage.”
Quarles said the damage appears to have been caused by straight-line winds; however, it’s still possible there was a tornado.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the National Weather Service finds that there was a tornado,” he said.
Taylor resident Gail Tidwell Brown said she doesn’t need to wait for the NWS — she believes a tornado is to blame for knocking down several trees in her yard that destroyed her three vehicles.
“I was on the phone and heard the rain coming down and then I heard this roar,” she said. “I told the person I was talking to I had to hang up. Then I heard what sounded like a bomb and then my car alarm went off.”
With the power out, Tidwell Brown said it was hard to see the damage at first. However, it wasn’t long before she was able to go outside and see the large tree that smashed her cars, tore down phone and power lines.
“I’m thankful my house wasn’t damaged and that we weren’t hurt,” she said. “But it’s pretty bad.”
Tidwell Brown said she is sure it was a tornado because of how the trees were twisted before breaking.
“Straight-line winds just snap the trees,” she said. “You can see how these were twisted like what happens with a tornado.”
Meteorologists from the NWS are expected to come to Lafayette County over the next few days to examine the path of damage to determine the cause, whether straight-line winds or a tornado.
Road crews spent more than three hours Friday morning clearing Old Taylor Road of fallen trees and limbs. As of 11 a.m., more than 600 people in Taylor were still without power and 500 were without power in Abbeville from downed power lines.
Quarles said the high winds also caused the large tree to topple in Harmontown and several trees fell over on Old Highway 7.
NWS Meteorologist Harry Weinman said more storms could blow through Lafayette County Friday.
“These storms are coming from the west and progressing into severe thunderstorms,” he said.
There’s a 70 percent chance for more rain and storms Saturday morning, according to the NWS. Sunday is expected to be mostly sunny.