Twin tragedy: Tornado crushes Wagener Massacre victim’s home + pics of North Tornado

WAGENER — As if July 2, 2011 was not bad enough for the Baldwin family, Friday brought even more tragic news.

One of the two tornados to hit the Central Savannah River Area on Friday afternoon obliterated the home of the late Esther Baldwin along SAND DAM RD near the North Fork Edisto River.  If you’re wondering where the second tornado in the CSRA touched down at, it struck the Town of North (photos of the North tornado will be below the Wagener tornado story).

Via WRDW News 12.

Sometimes a house is more than just a house and for the family of a Wagener murder victim, her house was all they had left of her.

Esther Baldwin was shot and killed in her home in July. She was the last victim in a murder suicide that took four lives.

On Friday, a tornado destroyed her home. Her family was emotional as they surveyed the damage.

“Very emotional, very hard,” said Esther’s sister, Mary Shore. “You can’t come and sit on her steps anymore.”

Those steps that now lie in a pile of debris in the middle of where Esther Baldwin’s two-story home used to stand.

“This was the last thing we had of our sister that we could actually come to and be a part of,” Shore said. “This is where she lived, this is where she died. So it’s very hard to see its gone like she is, it’s gone.”

A violent storm, just like that violent day in July that took a part of their family.

“It’s devastating,” Shore said. “Another incident just rips your heart out; it’s like the last piece of Esther is gone.”

But her home seemed to be the only thing around that was gone.

“If you look around here, I mean you got an old abandoned trailer here, a neighbor’s house, I think it tore a window out, that kind of stuff, but this house it took and just ripped it apart,” said David Baldwin, Esther’s brother.

Neighbors who helped build the home can’t believe how easily it was destroyed. John Soloky said he helped build the house about six years ago.

“When I saw this, it’s just hard to believe because I helped build this house and it was put together,” Soloky said. “I’m just flabbergasted.”

Soloky’s wife and 13-year-old grandson were in his house about 300 feet away when the tornado hit.

“All I heard was a bunch of wind and I couldn’t see anything,” said Soloky’s grandson, Kenneth Mcleoud.

Then the rain stopped.

“I saw a little bit of it and I said, ‘Oh my God, Ms. Esther’s house is gone.'”

Their house survived with very little damage, but Baldwin’s didn’t. Now her family is dealing with loss all over again.

No injuries have been reported.

My heart aches for the Baldwin family even more now than it did on July 2 when I first read about Ms. Baldwin’s brutal death to the hands of her ex-boyfriend.  To lose a loved one is bad enough.  But, to lose the home she spent her last day alive at (as well as the belongings that Ms. Baldwin left behind) less than two-thirds of a year after being slain is just too much.

The home that was built six years ago was crushed in all of 12 seconds.

The Aiken County Chapter of the Red Cross, located at 1314 WEST PINE LOG RD, is assisting the Baldwin family, as well as the others that lost their home along SAND DAM RD.

Photos of the Wagener twister are available on various social media accounts of News 12, NBC 26 and WJBF NewsChannel 6.  I will not post those pics here.

As for the North twister, here are those pics:

The crossing bar at this railway crossing was bent like Play-Doh by a tornado that struck North.
Damage at Dover Elementary in North.

Wind damage, hail, excessive cloud-to-ground lightning, and even flooding was also reported in numerous other counties locally. Columbia County, Richmond County, Hampton County, McDuffie County, Warren County, and Taliaferro County all reported seeing severe weather.  A dog was struck by lightning in Augusta, Ga.

You can view all the storm reports on this link.

I truly hope that this is not a preview of what severe weather season will look like, which begins on the same exact day as Women’s History Month.

UPDATE @ 16:10: The Storm Prediction Center surveyors have confirmed that the North tornado is an EF-0 and the Wagener tornado is an EF-2.