Riegelwood remembered two years later

Sunday marked the second anniversary of the deadly tornado that swept through Columbus County. Riegelwood changed forever when it touched down, killing eight people. Those who lived through the event looked back to remember they lost.

The Latham family hasn’t forgotten how close they came to the devastating tornado. It hit Riegelwood two years ago, forever changing the tiny town. Danny Latham said, “We had five die in our neighborhood alone. We were graced by God that it slipped by us, it hit right across the street. It kind of veered off and gave us about $12,000 worth of damage to the house.”

November 16, 2006 just after 6 a.m., the family saw the massive twister ripping through their small mobile home park, leveling most of what was in its path. With winds reaching up 200 mph, the tornado traveled for seven miles, killing eight and injuring 21 others.

Kevin Graham remembers the day much differently. It was the day he lost his nephew who was also a member of his motorcycle club. Graham said, “It’s been two years but the memories are still there as if it were yesterday.” To remember his nephew, O’Keon Wilson, members of the club hop on their bikes and ride from Wilmington to Riegelwood to place flowers by his grave site. O’Keon’s name, and the seven others who lost their lives, were memorialized on a monument last year. It sits in front of the Riegelwood Fire Department.

Fire Chief Steve Camlin said the one positive of the deadly tornado was the community’s ability to rally around one another for support. In the aftermath of the tornado, the Riegelwood Fire Department was able to acquire more emergency response equipment as well as a mobile disaster trailer to be better prepared for potential future disasters.

Categories: Columbus

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