Keith Pauls thinks of his companion Jim Breland every time he gets out of the driveway and sees a broken tree.
Instead of passing Breland waving from home or taking him on his next hunting trip as he’s been doing for decades, Pauls visits his best friend’s grave on the Turner Expressway in Varnville. Drive
Surrounding Paul is a reminder that a deadly tornado in Hampton County last year killed Breland (59), wife Donna (56), and daughter Keila (26).
Sometimes it’s a fragment of a neighbor’s house still stuck in a tree or field. There are also times when dark storm clouds have come in.
It is difficult to escape from the painful reality. A very close family, people who were part of everyday life, suddenly left tragically.
Pauls and his wife, Barbara, have leaned against each other and God more than ever since the unexpected EF4 tornado killed five people on April 13, 2020. Two colleagues who lived together — In the county. Twister injured at least 60 people and damaged nearly 200 homes. According to the National Weather Service.. The tornado traveled 24 miles from the Estil region towards Colleton County at a wind speed of 175 mph.
For the next few months, Pauls searched for photos at home.
He knows that he and Breland took pictures after the murder during the deer hunting season, or with his best friend and cousin’s wife.
Pauls felt defeated until his eyes were tired by sieving his old photo suitcase.
“Just knowing that we have a picture, we have to keep missing it,” he said.
In October, Pauls decided to make a new one. He took separate pictures of himself and Breland having money, sat side by side at the table, and took pictures with his smartphone.
Now he takes pictures of him and his friends everywhere. This includes tree stands when hunting, but Paul hasn’t been there very often in the past season.
“I’m not hunting much right now,” Pauls said. “I still go from time to time because he knows he doesn’t want to give it up to me.”
But he hasn’t returned to their favorite place. It’s too early.
When Breland wasn’t hunting, he was fishing, spending time with his family, or working for Wiggins Concrete, where he had worked for 30 years.
According to Pauls, Breland’s wife, Donna, was also a diligent and “sweetest and most devoted person.”
She worked at Jens Rainbowland and later touched on the lives of many children in Hampton County when she worked as director of the Melon Patch Child Care Center. She also worked in a nursery school at the Nickville Baptist Church of which she was a member.
And like her mother, her daughter, Keila Breland, enjoyed her job as a nursery teacher and was delighted to be with her children. In my free time, I enjoyed arts and crafts such as drawing and painting.
“There weren’t many in Brelans, but they were good people and always helped people,” Pauls said. “It’s not the same without it and we can’t get them back, but when you’re so used to seeing them, it’s painful.”
A year after the tornado, the Pauls family has been trying to remember the happy times they shared with Brelans and the laughter they will never forget.
On Tuesday, the anniversary of the tragedy, Paul and other community members are planning a commemorative event at Gin Cemetery, where the family is buried together.