Prolonged power outages a major problem for many

  • Thursday, February 13, 2014

For more than 10,000 people across Georgetown County, this week’s ice storm resulted in power outages that began Wednesday morning and continued through the day Thursday.

And for many, it could still be days before the electricity is returned to their homes.

As of mid-afternoon Thursday, 11,145 Georgetown County Santee Electric Cooperative customers were without electricity. Duke Power, which services the Andrews area of the county had 1,726 without power and Santee Cooper reported 987 customers between Pawleys Island and Surfside Beach still powerless.

The City of Georgetown reported only scattered outages remained Thursday afternoon.

Crews have been working since Wednesday to get power restored. All the main feeders in the county were back online Thursday then work began on smaller transformers and taps served by those feeders.

See page 9 for more on Santee Electric’s power restoration.

Because of the widespread power outages, area hotels were filled and restaurants were packed with customers all day Thursday.

For many, the loss of electricity has been an inconvenience. For others it has been a more serious issue.

Kelly Weeter of Plantersville is the mother of 5-year-old Dakota who is “severely asthmatic” and needs to take nebulizer treatments every 4-6 hours. The family lost electricity at about 10 a.m. Wednesday and was still without power Thursday afternoon.

“We are just praying,” Mrs. Weeter said after Dakota had missed her sixth treatment.

She said her daughter began coughing a lot overnight Wednesday and if her power was not restored by Thursday evening, she was going to have to take her daughter to the hospital.

Mrs. Weeter’s parents were also without electricity, so taking her daughter there was not an option.

Weeter said the family used a kerosene heater and “lots and lots” of blankets to stay warm.

Kept warm in their car

Carvers Bay High basketball coach Jeff Mezzatesta lost power at his house around noon on Wednesday.

He and his wife, Luann, live near Carvers Bay Middle School with their children, Asher, 6, and Mary-Adalynn, 3 weeks.

“We cooked [dinner] on the grill,” Mezzatesta said. “The only bad part was making it through the night. We were hoping it would come back on through the night.”

At one point the family gathered in the car to warm up. Afterwards, Mezzatesta tried to drive to a gas station to get more gas, but found many of the roads were blocked by trees. There were also many trees down in his backyard.

When Thursday morning dawned and the power was still off, the Mezzatestas decided it was too cold to keep the kids, especially the baby, in the house.

“We couldn’t take that risk,” Mezzatesta said.

The family drove to Georgetown to find a warm place to hang out, and then decided around noon to head north and get a hotel room at the beach for the night.

While trying to get the last regular season basketball games rescheduled, Mezzatesta is also worried about how the district will make up all the days missed because of inclement weather.

“You want everybody to be safe but you know the kids are missing things,” he said.

Uses electric lift and wheelchair

James Walters is a quadriplegic who relies on an electric lift to help him get to and from his bed to his electric wheel chair.

The power in his Graves Station community home went out at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. He spoke to the Georgetown Times Thursday afternoon and was still without electricity.

He said he does have someone who helps him in and out of bed in the evening, but the rest of the day he is on his own.

“I have been spending a lot of time at McDonalds and at the hospital charging up my equipment,” he said.

He said he spent two hours Thursday in the hospital cafeteria.

Warming Shelters opened

At about 7 p.m. Wednesday, three locations were opened for people without electricity to go to keep warm.

They were Pleasant Hill Elementary School, Andrews Elementary School and Georgetown City Hall.

Georgetown County Public Information Officer Jackie Broach said about 15 people stayed at the Andrews shelter overnight Wednesday but the number increased to 21 Thursday afternoon.

No one showed up in Pleasant Hill. Georgetown City Administrator Chris Carter said four people were at City Hall but only one stayed the entire night.

The Andrews and Georgetown locations were opened again Thursday night.

At the Andrews shelter, there were problems with the generator which, in turn, caused heating issues overnight Wednesday.

“It worked a while and went out,” Broach said, adding the county was not notified of the problem until Thursday morning.

Crews worked on the problem Thursday and another generator was being trucked in Thursday afternoon.

“Hopefully this one will perform better,” Broach said.

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