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Brandon’s Tornado Story

Brandon was visiting the South Carolina coast in July 2001 when he experienced a tornado. Here is his story:

I was 10 years old when it happened. The date was July 6, 2001. I was looking out the window and saw a dark, towering cumulonimbus cloud about 1 ¾ to 2 miles away. There was lightning and it was just the normal warm but somehow cool temperature for Myrtle Beach. I told my dad that the storm looked harsh and if we go out to eat it should be now. We were still unpacking at out hotel. So we went out the door and I looked up and was amazed. There was a small funnel cloud that had not touched down yet. It was heading towards downtown Myrtle Beach. All of a sudden, a breeze picked up. A lady popped out of a (nearby) door and said something about a twister. I'm not sure whether she was asking if there was one, if she overheard our conversation or she was warning us about the still-approaching tornado.

My dad heard screaming. Not the usual happy, playful scream. I heard it too. It was full of terror and fear. My dad hurried to look over the balcony towards the beach. He saw a towering tornado on the shore. People were darting everywhere to hide. That may sound like it took a while but what happened on the balcony all together was under a minute to a minute in a half. Me, I have always had a fascination with weather, especially tornadoes. I had mixed feelings of joy, since I always wanted to see one up close, and fear, because I didn't want to die or be sucked up and fly in the air.

My family, of course, wanted to hide in the bathroom. I told them we should go to the stairway. We made our way down the stairway, with the power flashing on and off. Others soon followed. The tornado hardly made a sound. My ears felt funny though, like when you’re going down a mountain. I heard some banging and a small hissing sound. After the tornado passed the hotel the wind started howling. That's weird because you would think that the tornado would make the sound but it didn't. Then we went to see the damage. It was nothing. Pool chairs were scattered and thrown into pools. Dirt and debris colored the pool water. Palmetto tree bark was everywhere. We went up to our room. It smelt like a sewer and palmetto tree bark was covering the balcony and chair had fallen over. The restaurant next to our hotel was damaged badly. The roof was all messed up, doors pulled out of the frame, windows broken and wood from the roof was covering the parking lot. We went downtown to eat. Debris covered the sides of the roads. Whole buildings had turned into tooth picks and cars were upside down. We went further downtown and found a place to eat a late lunch. Our waitress was completely oblivious to the passed-by danger. I was still excited with mixed feelings about what just happened.

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