In the early morning hours of April 13, 2020 an EF-4 tornado with winds topping out at 175 mph, tore a twenty-four-mile path through Hampton County. This tornado was the strongest in Lowcountry history and the first recorded EF-4 tornado in South Carolina since 1995. Five individuals lost their lives and over fifty residents were injured. Fifty-eight homes were completely destroyed, displacing countless families that were left searching for housing. Other families have not yet returned to their homes that were damaged. In total, nearly 150 homes were damaged or destroyed and the expected cost to repair or replace these homes exceeds $5 million.
In response to this disaster, citizens of Hampton County formed a Long-Term Recovery Group, with the aid of South Carolina Emergency Management Division, in order to aid in the recovery of this disaster and any future disasters the County may experience. The County currently does not have any mechanism in place to raise disaster relief funds, assess individual needs, or to distribute funds to aid in a long- term recovery. To collect tax-deductible donations, The Hampton County Assistance Fund has been established in partnership with the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, a non-profit organization.
Board members of this group include numerous local residents including William Barnes, Wendy Jarrell, Sabrena Graham, Audrey Hopkins-Williams, and Gary Youmans.
“Hampton County is our home and those impacted are our friends and family,” said William Barnes, board co-chair of the Long-Term Recovery Group. “This storm rocked the core of our community and it’s critical that we provide assistance to those that were affected and are experiencing hardship during this already difficult time.”
The Hampton County Assistance Fund is a co-operative body that is made up of representatives from faith-based, non-profit, government, business, and other organizations within the Hampton County community. The initial goal is to raise a minimum of $500,000.00 through grants and donations and unite these resources with community needs to help those impacted recover from this disaster. Once a sufficient amount of funds are received, the Hampton County Assistance Fund will release additional information regarding the application process to receive assistance.
“The tornado hitting at the same time as the COVID-19 crisis made our community even more vulnerable,” Barnes continued. “It is a difficult time for everyone but we are stronger together.”
To donate to the Hampton County Assistance Fund you can use the following options:
Checks: Written payable to the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry with the memo line designated to Hampton County Assistance Fund. Mailed to Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, 4 Northridge Drive, Suite A, Hilton Head Island, SC 29925.