County still recovering days after Winter Storm Pax; 2,600 still without power

First Byline: 
Laura J. McKenzie, Publisher

Crews from all over the region are working on clean up from Winter Storm Pax which devastated the Barnwell County area last week.
As of Sunday morning, approximately 1,900 Edisto Electric customers and 756 SCE&G customers were still without power.
Both power companies have reported that over 70 percent of their customers experienced power loss during the storm.
"This is worse than what we had when Hurricane Hugo came through," said Robbin Hutto, spokeswoman for Edisto Electric which services eight South Carolina counties. "We had 75 percent of our 20,000 customers impacted by this storm."
"Our goal is to get each and every one of our customers on as quickly as possible," she said.
While most of the customers have been reconnected, some in isolated areas may not have power restored until Tuesday or Wednesday, she said.
Generally the power companies have prioritized restoration to lines serving the most customers first.
"We have even more crews coming in," said Hutto. "We have over 100 extra people as well as our normal staff and contract folks working 24/7."
Hutto said Edisto Electric customers without power can call 1-800-433-3292. "We don't have an automated system answering the calls. We have real people so if the line is busy, please understand we are working with another customer."
Besides answering phones, Hutto said office staff were also packing lunches for their crews. "All our staff is working as hard as we can, around the clock."
Outages by SCE&G customers may be reported to 1-888-333-4465 on an automated line or online or mobile at www.sceg.com.
S.C. Department of Transportation crews are also literally plowing through neighborhood streets, getting debris off the roads and onto side areas.
The Barnwell County Emergency Management Division has been coordinating efforts throughout the storm and is continuing to operate 24 hours a day with law enforcement, fire, EMS, as well as local, state and federal agencies.
Property owners are spending the weekend clearing away the multitude of limbs and debris left by the storm. Neighbors have been helping neighbors across the area.
Officials are asking that debris be placed curbside but not in the road. Debris is not to be taken to the landfill.

The BCEMD in conjunction with the South Carolina Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief is offering chainsaw debris clearing services beginning Feb. 16. Those in need of this service should call (803) 541-1135 or (803) 541-1159.
Priorities will be placed in the following manner: elderly, un-insured, under-insured, and then homeowner insured. If you are on rental property, then property owner information and signature is required.
The public is invited to attend an informational meeting at First Baptist Church in Barnwell at 5 p.m., according to Barnwell County Administrator Pickens Williams.
According to South Carolina Emergency Management Division on Sunday morning, "Counties are transitioning to debris removal and damage assessment operations. Restoration of power, debris management, disaster-related information and damage assessment continue to be the primary focus of emergency managers throughout South Carolina."
• Utilities report 89,148 power outages statewide. This is down from 346,000 outages reported at 11 a.m. on Thursday (highest total since incident began). Utility crews continue working to resolve the issues and assess the damages.
• The S.C. Emergency Management Division estimates there are hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of debris statewide, based on reports by county emergency managers.
• There are 8 general population shelters and warming centers housing 88 citizens. Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Southern Baptist Convention continue to support feeding operations in Georgetown and Berkeley counties.
• There are 4 DHEC special medical needs shelters currently operating with 18 occupants.
• The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has responded to 65 resource requests over the course of the incident. These resource requests include generators, debris removal, transportation assistance, energy restoration, National Guard support, and drinking water. Also, the SEOC has submitted an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request for 20,000 additional tons of road salt.
• National Guard soldiers are assisting with debris clearing in Aiken.
• A FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) has joined the State Emergency Response Team at the S.C. Emergency Operations Center to assist in the processing of Federal requests for assistance; today begins the first operational period under a joint incident action plan.
• The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, many state and local volunteer groups are helping residents directly affected by this winter storm. Contact your local organizations if you need aid.