FEMA to survey tornado damage; storm losses now estimated at almost $3M
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FEMA to survey tornado damage; storm losses now estimated at almost $3M

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Storm hit homes on Ninety Six Road (copy)

A home on Ninety Six Road was demolished by a tornado in the Neeses area. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives will visit Orangeburg County to survey the damage from last week’s deadly tornadoes.

“We had 54 single-family homes damaged during the storm. We had 27 mobile homes damaged during the storm. We had 10 business/business properties damaged during the storm,” Orangeburg County Emergency Services Director Billy Staley said during a Monday county council meeting.

“Current dollar figures for damages to property are right around $2.98 million worth of damage to the property. We’re currently in the process of submitting to the state, and we have submitted up the documentation for FEMA assistance to the state requesting it,” he said.

FEMA representatives will look at the damage this week, “to try to get both individual assistance for the citizens and to look at getting public assistance to help the government entities who were responding to the disaster,” Staley said.

Three tornadoes struck Orangeburg County last week. One, with winds reaching 140 mph, killed two people in the Neeses area.

Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said the storm debris removal will begin this week. The debris will be transported to a particular location in the county.

“We’re going to stage it near the Neeses camp because we identified multiple properties that are forfeited land properties that we can help with staging. We have a plan to chip the debris, and we’re working on a plan to remove the other aspects of the debris at the same time,” Young said.

Young also noted that the county is continuing to provide support, including working with the Red Cross and other entities, to assist the citizens affected by the storm.

Also during Monday’s Orangeburg County Council meeting, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College President Dr. Walt Tobin gave an update regarding campus activity and changes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Beginning on March 16, we converted the campus to completely online. We closed the campus to the public, and our faculty and staff began the process of telework,” Tobin said.

“We have gotten preliminary feedback from our students, and it all seems to be positive. It appears though, that this may be longer-term in terms of offering courses in the online environment,” Tobin said.

Tobin said the campus is open to students who have limited internet access.

“We’ve opened the campus up to them, and allowed them to come on campus Monday through Thursday and work in their cars. We don’t give them any access to the facility,” Tobin said.

“We’ve been able to award some emergency funds to students who might need to have access to some kind of technology,” he said.

Tobin reported that the spring semester has been extended to May 28. The extension is to ensure that students enrolled in courses that require clinical or lab work have an opportunity to meet all requirements.

Tobin noted that all graduation and pinning ceremonies have been postponed. The new dates haven’t been determined yet.

Tobin also noted that the college started its budgeting process and is looking to add a paramedic program in the fall.

Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-596-6530.

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