Crews at Stable View, an equestrian training facility in Aiken County, continued clearing up debris Friday created by a tornado that touched down in the area Thursday afternoon.
The National Weather Service on Friday morning confirmed a tornado tore through the area of Springfield Church Road and Stable View causing damage.
The area was shut down by police after high winds lifted temporary stables from the farm, tossing them into the roadway.
A storm survey team with the National Weather Service met with Aiken County Emergency Response officials Friday morning to take in the scene at Stable View and confirmed an EF1 tornado had hit the area just north of Interstate 20.
Crews are continuing to work on cleaning up debris on Springfield Church Road in #Aiken caused by last nights storm. I’m told the National Weather Service will be here today to determine if a twister caused the damage. @aikenstandard pic.twitter.com/2nr3p25CsL— ☃️📰 Matthew Enfinger📰⛄️ (@matt_enfinger) February 7, 2020
Walter Cochenour, a Stable View grounds crew worker, was cleaning the stalls with three other workers when the storm rushed through.
He recalled intense winds, hearing a sound similar to a train and then, finally, seeing the twister itself approaching.
“I thought we were dead,” Cochenour said. “You could see the twister. It was wider than our shop and just went through the trees.”
Instantly heavy wind and rain rushed into the area, Roger Jones, another crew member, recalled. Trees began to bend and snap as the workers attempted to escape from the storm’s path.
The crew rushed to a nearby workshop for cover.
Within minutes the storm calmed, Cochenour said.
Jones then called Stable View owners Cyndy and Barry Olliff to report the damage.
“The tornado came through, lifted the whole thing up, did a little spinning around and put most of it in the middle of the road or on the other side of the road,” Barry Olliff said. “It’s going to be an interesting project to get it back to where it was.”
He confirmed workers and horses were not harmed by the tornado.
Stable View plans to clear the wreckage, replace the stalls and continue “business as usual” for upcoming events.
Following the storm, volunteers from throughout the Aiken County area arrived at the farm to help clear debris.
Barry Olliff said at least 12 volunteers arrived to help Friday morning.
“To me, the one thing that is just so heart moving, how mother nature provided us with a tragedy and out of that came help and assistance,” Cyndy Olliff said.
The examination is ongoing, the National Weather Service said, and more information will be released later.
Staff reporter Colin Demarest contributed to this report.