Thursday, February 20, 2014
Thousands of people in South Carolina remain without electricity a week after what officials call the worst winter storm in a decade.
As of Wednesday afternoon Georgetown County still had 893 electric customers without service, Williamsburg County 1,913, Florence County 903, and Clarendon County with 1,114 with no electricity.
Those numbers are for member-customers of Santee Electric Cooperative, which is based in Kingstree and serves the four counties.
The problem has caused many families hardships.
Patrick and Gina Edwards of the folly Grove Community have been without electricity and water for a week.
The couple has two children — 6-year-old Kimbell and 11-year-old Trenton.
“My main concern is my children,” said Gina Edwards.
“We have been sleeping in a cold home for days now and because we have well water we have not had any water either.
“We were not prepared financially, emotionally, and physically.
The news on the television said that the coastal counties were not going to be that bad, so we did not plan for this storm to be that bad.
“I did not expect the storm to be that bad in our area.”
“The news kept saying some ice but this one was worst than the last storm. We made too little of it and didn't take the warning serious enough,” added Edwards.
The Edwards were not financially prepared for this storm and it has caused them to lose days of pay from work and also money they had not planned on spending.
They have spent over $200 for propane gas to cook on a propane burner and to try to stay warm.
She said the family could not afford to go to a hotel so they had to rough it out.
“I can't go and pay for a hotel, I have two kids to feed,” said Edwards
She had to continuously buy bags of ice to put in the freezer so that their food would not spoil.
“We have eaten so many ham sandwiches that I don't care if I never see another one,” added Edwards.
She said she feels like a pioneer woman this past week.
With no lights and camping out on her living room floor in sleeping bags, it has been an experience.
They were not able to take showers so they had to go relatives and take showers and then come back home.
And because the water was off they couldn't flush the toilet so they had to haul pails of water from their outdoor pool into the house to flush the toilet.
Her husband Patrick missed days of work because he did not want to leave the family alone with propane gas burning in the house which posed a safety hazard.
Even the gas from the propane was not healthy for them to inhale, but they wondered what choice did they have?
The boys went back to school on Tuesday and they had to go to a relative's house to bathe the boys.
They had to sleep in their clothes all night so that they would not have to endure the cold temperatures in the house before going to school.
This way everyone would be ready to just get up and go.
“One positive thing that came out of this storm is that the community really came together,” said Edwards.
She said she received so many calls and those whose lights were turned back on offered her family to come to dinner or even stay with them, but she said she did not want to burden them.
“I know that Santee Electric is trying their best to get everyone on, but they just don't have the manpower because there were so many outages”, added Edwards.
Another family's concerns
There are so many unanswered questions.
Why did some areas taken precedence over other areas in getting their lights on first?
This is a major concern for many Georgetown County residents.
The hardships on these families are tremendous, not mentioning the inconvenience.
Alfred Wilson is a disabled veteran who's on crutches and has braces.
Wilson lives on Fulmore Street near Andrews.
He is frustrated and feels that Santee Electric is giving him “the run-around.”
Wednesday was his eighth day without lights and he has no ideal when they will be turned back on.
He said he has called the office several times and asked for a supervisor.
They told him that the crew was in the Sampit area trying to restore power.
Two poles came down at the end of his road, but Gapway Road has power.
“I believe that someone at Santee Electric has a God complex of who gets their electric on,” added Wilson.
“My question is if they were on this road Friday and Saturday why did they skip around?” asked Wilson.
Wilson has been buying gas for his generator.
He said he has spent at least $500 for gas for his generator and wonders who is going to reimburse him for it.
“I have used money I could not afford to use.”
He said he told Santee Electric that he has used all of this money for propane, and their answer was “that's your problem.”
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