Friday, March 21, 2008

Branchville Businesses face condemnations

If last Saturday's F-3 tornado wasn't enough to defeat the small town's merchants, county officials are now taking aim on damaged buildings. From the T & D newspaper:

The first dark cloud came Saturday night, bringing with it a
tornado that unleashed winds estimated between 150 and 165 mph.The second cloud
arrived late Wednesday when county officials partially or completely condemned
at least five downtown businesses due to structural stress cracks."The buildings
here have suffered a whole lot of pressure," says Harold Young, Orangeburg
County's deputy administrator for community development. "We understand that
this is a long portion of the town, and we're sympathetic. But we have to make
sure it's safe."

Local resident, and my former neighbor Clifton Ott isn't taking this lying down:

Ott says his business is safe, that very little damage was done
when the Category 3 tornado barrelled through the town between 7 and 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, knocking down entire buildings like bowling pins."The only thing it
did to my building is ripped the awning off and the sign was hanging down," Ott
said. "I still can't believe it. They're going to condemn us. I'll take you out
there and show you the cracks. They ain't nothing."

One of my first jobs as a teenager was at a department store in Newberry, which was struck by a tornado in the 1980's. You could see the cracks in the walls where the foundation shifted, but for several years at least, the business was still standing and operating as before.