Tornado damages building at St. Andrew’s in Clemson

A tornado felled a large tree that damaged the front of St. Andrew Church's religious education building Sunday.

CLEMSON—Severe weather spawned deadly tornadoes in the Upstate and Lowcountry on the morning of Monday, April 13, but left Catholic Church buildings mostly unscathed.

The only report of significant damage came from St. Andrew in Clemson, where a large tree fell across the front of a building on the parish campus, according to Eric Meister, Catholic Mutual’s claims risk manager for the Diocese of Charleston. Meister said he had not received any other reports of damage from any other diocesan properties as of mid-afternoon, Tuesday, April 14.

Franciscan Father Dan McLellan, pastor of St. Andrew, said the damaged building is a house known as Merton Hall which is used for religious education. He said the tree fell across the front of the building, crushed the front porch railings and punched a hole in the roof. No one was inside when the storm came through early Monday morning.

“Fortunately the interior of Merton Hall is undamaged,” Father McLellan said. “The tree damage is all we had, thank goodness. The church, our chapel and other buildings all came through undamaged.”

Father McLellan said tree fell because of a tornado which started south of the town of Seneca about six miles to the west of Clemson, then crossed over Lake Hartwell and into several neighborhoods in Clemson itself. He said the houses of several St. Andrew parishioners were heavily damaged, but no one was injured or had their home destroyed.

Monday’s tornadoes did heavy damage in Seneca, however, where one man was killed at a manufacturing plant. Other areas heavily impacted included Nixville in Hampton County about 60 miles northwest of Hilton Head, where at least five people died; parts of rural Orangeburg County where two people lost their lives; and neighborhoods near Walterboro in Colleton County.