Tree damage: It’s like Hugo

  • Friday, February 14, 2014

Photo Courtesy Robbin Bruce This yard near Andrews shows some of the damage from the winter storm that swept across the South this week.

Trees came down in yards and driveways, onto houses and boats, dropped on power lines and shorted them out or broke the lines.

That’s been happening throughout Georgetown County and across the South as a winter storm hit hard.

“The yard is starting to remind me of Hugo,” Gapway Road resident Robbin Bruce said.

“The trees are busting like an artillery barrage. No power, but a fireplace and water. As my brother Jobie says, ‘We good to go’.”

Bruce sent along a photo of his yard with tree branches and limbs down.

“My friend next door was in his shed. Two minutes later after he left out a huge limb destroyed it. God looked out for him.”

Similar stories are being told at stores, restaurants and what gas stations are open.

Georgetown and Williamsburg counties both supply a lot of timber to International Paper Co. in Georgetown and to other paper products companies.

Much of the fallen timber will be too small to use at a paper mill, and many homeowners will simply use the shrubs and trees as mulch or take it to a county recycling center or landfill.

When Hurricane Hugo hit South Carolina in September 1989, so many trees were snapped like matchsticks that loggers simply couldn’t harvest it all.

Scott Hawkins with the South Carolina Forestry Commission told the Georgetown Times Thursday morning, “We haven’t gotten any kind of assessment.

“We might start flying for assessment today or tomorrow (Friday) if the weather improves.”

“After Hugo, the market just tanked,” Hawkins said.

“The trees can only stay on the ground so long” and still be useful as pulpwood.

Along with many homeowners and businesses affected by the storm, Hawkins said, the Forestry Commission “has lost some repeaters. We’ve had intermittent coverage but we have coverage.”

Roads in many areas have leaning or fallen trees.

Power lines have to be repaired or replaced, new transformers put up to replace ones that blow out from surges, and later the trees will need to be taken down and removed. In many areas that may be affected by the weight of ice on needles, leaves and branches, if the trees are destroyed they will need to be harvested soon or insects and disease could cause even greater damage to nearby trees.

The Forestry Commission assessment will help loggers and paper companies plan for the coming months.

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