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Governor assesses damage from tornado that struck South Carolina beach town

SHARE Governor assesses damage from tornado that struck South Carolina beach town

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — A tornado formed over the ocean as a waterspout and moved ashore into this busy beach resort's business district, injuring several people, destroying mobile homes and overturning buses.

Damage from the twister that struck on Friday was estimated at about $8 million, said Myrtle Beach public information officer Mark Kruea.

Most of the damage was near the Pavilion, a well-known amusement complex along the shore.

Gov. Jim Hodges toured the damaged area Saturday and said his emergency management team would evaluate whether the area qualifies for federal disaster status.

"It's very unusual to have a tornado touch down in Myrtle Beach," Hodges said. "We are thankful that no one was killed."

The storm knocked out power to about 4,000 residences and businesses, but damaged only 150 of the city's 60,000 hotel rooms, he said.

"The power lines being down causing the traffic signals not to work may be our biggest headache at this point," said Kruea, estimating that 400,000 people were in town for the Fourth of July weekend.

The tornado popped out car windows, destroyed several mobile homes and overturned about two dozen recreational vehicles at camping areas. Two tour buses overturned, said police Lt. David Knipes.

The tornado started over the ocean, then moved ashore and traveled along Ocean Boulevard, the main street along the beach.

"It was just pretty amazing to watch beach chairs and umbrellas spinning around in a tornado," said 34-year-old Robert Myles.

At Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, nine people were treated for minor injuries, said nursing supervisor Joanne Lee.