More than 30 people were killed in a two-day period as severe storms tore across the South, leaving more than 1 million homes without power and damaging numerous others. In South Carolina, nine people were killed by tornadoes that struck the state.
The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Greenville-Spartanburg said that a "large and significant" EF-3 tornado with maximum winds of 160 mph tore through the town of Seneca, located just outside of Clemson in the early hours of April 13.
The tornado traveled over 16 miles and was half a mile wide, damaging numerous homes and a large warehouse.
One of the homes destroyed by the twister belonged to Bill Patterson, who rushed his wife and son to hide in a closet before the powerful winds knocked the structure 15 feet off its foundation, collapsed the roof, caved in the front door and blew the chimney off.
With the house now slanted on its base and not repairable, Patterson told WYFF News 4 his family does not have insurance to cover the damage from the storm. He has taken to spray painting "Can you help rebuild our home" along with sharing his Venmo account "@Bill-Patterson-71" as part of a plea for help.
"Maybe this will draw some attention to what we’re trying to do," Patterson told the television station. "I thought it was interesting and so I got up on the roof and wrote my Venmo up there and we've had a number of people contributing and certainly we appreciate it. I can't express how grateful we are."
Venmo is a mobile app where users can send or request money from each other.
He hopes his Venmo appeal for help that's visible from the air will help his family recover as they are currently staying with a family friend.
"Everything I'm doing revolves around my wife and my kids," he told WYFF. "I'm doing everything I can to rebuild for them and reach out for help."
While Patterson's family escaped the tornado without major injuries, others were not as fortunate.
Security guard Jack Harvill, 77, died when the building he was in outside the BorgWarner factory collapsed in the tornado. Only about five people were at the plant at the time. Typically, 200 would be working the night shift, but the coronavirus shut the plant down, Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said.
The plant supplies parts for Ford F-Series pickup trucks, the top-selling vehicle in the U.S., as well as Fiat Chrysler's Ram pickups and Toyota's Tundra.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.