15 structures, 6 vehicles damaged during Tryon tornado

Published 9:06 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

TRYON – An EF-1 tornado that hit Tryon and Lake Lanier on Oct. 8 damaged 15 structures and six vehicles, according to Polk County Emergency Management Director Bobby Arledge.

Arledge attended the Polk County Board of Commissioner meeting on Monday, Nov. 6 and gave an update, as well as showed aerial photographs, maps and a video of the tornado and its damage.

Arledge said at the peak of the incident, there were over 1,300 power outages reported and many streets were impassible due to trees and power lines being down across them.

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The tornado was caused by Hurricane Nate and the tornado was the first confirmed one in Polk County in many years, Arledge said.

The tornado was classified as an EF-1 by the National Weather Service, with wind speeds at or above 95 mph.

The storm came from the Lake Lanier area first and made its way through Tryon before ending in the area of Berry Street and Grady Avenue in downtown Tryon.

“During the tornado and throughout the event, the Polk County 911 center alone dispatched 82 law enforcement calls, 58 fire related calls, 23 medical calls, answered 120 (emergency) 911 calls and answered 241 administrative phone calls,” Arledge said.

Responding to the tornado and its aftermath were fire departments from Tryon, Saluda and Columbus, the Tryon Police Department, the Polk County Rescue Squad and Town of Tryon Public Works department who assisted with debris removal.

“Departments worked throughout the night to get as many roads cleared as they could,” Arledge said.

Arledge said the next morning, Monday, Oct 9, crews were back out surveying the damage and making sure residents were okay. The Tryon Police Department and Polk County Sheriff’s Office went door-to-door to see if residents needed anything.

Arledge also said local officials coordinated with Link Medical to bring extra oxygen bottles to the Tryon Fire Department in case someone was on home oxygen and had no power.

“State emergency management officials came in on Monday to begin assisting Tryon to see if they could receive federal support,” Arledge said. “Currently, this is still being investigated. The National Weather Service came in on Tuesday and met with town officials and myself and went out and performed a damage assessment.”

Arledge said the storm was handled very efficiently with the work of many agencies working together.

“I am very proud of the hard work of all the emergency services agencies and town departments to make sure the citizens were protected and to be there if there was an emergency,” Arledge said. “Everyone involved should be proud of their efforts.”

He said the best thing about this event was that no one was hurt or injured.

Commissioners thanked all emergency officials for their work during and after the tornado.