Charleston, SC Tornado, Sept 1938

Charleston Destruction

“I did not see any buildings collapse, it did not last more than thirty seconds or a minute at the most in the neighborhood I was in. As soon as I got to the office, a stone's throw away, I saw that all the electricity was off.”

“Looking from the window, I noticed the roof of the Timrod Inn had disappeared. The nearby market place was badly damaged. As far as we could see from the windows of the office, Charleston presented wrecked buildings and uprooted trees. A person in a nearby building struck by the storm didn't have a chance, so violent, unexpected and swift was the attack.”

“The storm apparently dipped into all parts of the city with a toll of wreckage every where it touched.”
The dead may run beyond 22, but that many already are in the morgues. The injured probably will reach three hundred or more but there is no way of telling the exact amount as the hospitals are glutted with activity in trying to take care of the situation. All power plants are out of commission and telephone connections are badly disrupted.

J. E. LOCKWOOD, U. S. meteorologist, said he believed two tornadoes struck the city a few minutes apart.

The first apparently roared in from the west across the Ashley river bridge, he said. It did not approach the weather bureau near enough for the instruments to record it.

The second came in from the southwest a few minutes later and struck the Battery. A wind velocity of 72 miles an hour, just three miles less than hurricane force, was recorded for this blow, LOCKWOOD said.

On South Battery fine old colonial homes, many of them bought by wealthy northerners in recent years, were badly tattered.

Two companies of South Carolina National Guardsmen assisted in maintaining order. Detachments of soldiers from Fort Moultrie and marines from the navy yard were ordered out to augment their strength. Shipping in port escaped undamaged. Except for the Battery, where a number of beautiful trees were blown down, the waterfront was unscathed.

The city's water systems continued to function without interference.

Gastonia Daily Gazette North Carolina 1938-09-29