Friday, January 14, 2011
GEORGETOWN, SC — Scattered power outages could continue to be a problem in rural areas of Georgetown County through today, as ice continues to cling to trees, with frosty overnight temperatures.
About 3,000 customers of Santee Electric Cooperative were without power Monday night until Tuesday morning, said Adrel Langley, spokeswoman for Santee Electric Cooperative.
Power was restored to all but 30 people by 9 a.m. Tuesday, she said.
The problems were caused by lines going down or limbs breaking with a heavy coating of ice in Carters Crossroads, Nesmith and parts of Hemingway, Langley said.
Line repair crews worked overtime and additional people were called in to handle emergency calls, Langley said.
“They are really out there working to get it back on as soon as possible,” Langley said. “We had all of our guys out working.”
A Red Cross shelter was opened in Kingstree during the power outage. The shelter was closed at noon Tuesday.
The shelter could reopen, if needed.
“If we are requested by county emergency management again this week we will do that,” said Nanci Conley, an official with the Coastal South Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross. “The Red Cross is on standby and we are available if needed.”
Sporadic power outages could also be a problem until today, as ice continues to cling to trees in rural areas.
“The main problem was the weight of the ice on trees, causing the lines to fall,” Langley said.
At least 800 people were without power in Georgetown County, Langley said. Another 2,000 were without power in Williamsburg County.
Other, scattered outages were reported in Clarendon County.
Santee Cooper also reported some scattered outages in Georgetown County.
Fewer than 100 people in Georgetown County were impacted by the storm, said Santee Cooper Spokeswoman Mollie Gore.
According to news reports, more than 11,000 residents had no electricity Tuesday morning throughout South Carolina.
About 7,000 customers using Progress Energy were without service, news reports said. This included residents of Lake City and Sumter.
Meanwhile, at least 300 calls for service were answered in the Georgetown County area between 7 a.m. Monday and 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.
The majority of calls were ice related, said Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins with the Highway Patrol.
”That’s a much higher number of calls than on a routine day,” Collins said of the calls that were answered in Georgetown, Williamsburg, Horry, Florence, Marion and Clarendon counties. “With the ice event, that is quite a bit more than we routinely handle.”
Black ice, the thin sheet of ice that forms on dark pavement, will continue to be a problem this week on secondary roads, Collins said.
The ice on bridges and overpasses could melt during the day, but refreeze overnight.
Many car crashes were reported in Georgetown County during the storm.
Most of the accidents were minor with no injuries. One exception was a mishap that occurred on Gapway Road near Andrews at about 10:30 a.m. Monday.
The driver, the only occupant, had to be cut from the vehicle.
State of emergency
County offices in Georgetown County opened at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Schools also opened on a two-hour delay Tuesday.
With icy roads remaining a problem early Tuesday, Governor Mark Sanford — in one of his final acts as the leader of the state — declared a state of emergency for all 46 counties.
Sanford said he decided to issue the order because it allowed state and local officials maximum flexibility in clearing and treating roads, bring additional resources to the Department of Public Safety to assist stranded motorists, and that ensure utilities have the greatest leeway in managing any possible power outages.
“It is essential that state and local workers charged with dealing with the storm’s effects be given the greatest possible ability to do their jobs quickly and effectively,” the governor said in a statement.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation was out salting bridges throughout the storm. Those efforts made it possible to keep all the bridges in the county open through the entire event.
While Georgetown County saw mainly sleet and ice, other parts of the state experienced their second major snowfall since Christmas.
In Greenville, a record snowfall for the date — 6.5 inches — was recorded.
Because of class time missed Monday and Tuesday, schools in Georgetown County will have a full day Thursday — originally scheduled as a half-day, said District Superintendent Dr. Randy Dozier.
Students will also attend a full day June 1, which was also supposed to be a half day.
There will be no school for students Friday, because of a teacher workday, or Monday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
This is the third frozen precipitation event in Georgetown County in less than a year, something unheard of for coastal South Carolina.
A dusting to about an inch of snow fell in the county the day after Christmas and seven inches blanketed the area last February.
By Kelly Marshall Fuller
And Scott Harper