‘Not since Hugo ...’ County hit hard by ice storm

  • Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dan Brown/Gazette A 100-plus-year-old grand oak that fell on this Main Street Moncks Corner house was one of hundreds of downed trees that cost power to more than 30,000 Berkeley County residents.

“Not since Hugo ...”

That’s the sentinment voiced by many Berkeley County residents three-day snow and ice storm crippled this part of the state and left more than 30,000 county residents without power - including 2,300 that remained powerless on Monday of this week, mainly in the county’s rural areas.

Hugo, the 1989 hurricane, hit Charleston and flattened much of interior Berkeley County as it rolled inland, taking out centuries old oaks and throwing much of the Lowcountry into darkness for weeks.

While last week’s ice storm didn’t cause the level of damage created by Hugo, residents haven’t seen anything so bad since, and in some cases the power outages experienced here have eclipsed the storm from 25 years ago.

“This surpasses Hugo in terms of power outages from what I can see,” said Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt. “I think the loss of power has been more widespread now.”

Power crews from three states worked to restore power to rural residents. The going was slow, according to Berkeley Electric Cooperative road crews and took time.

One lineman said his crew had reestablished power to the main line from the Dollar General on Highway 6 in Cross down along Shortcut Road where the tree damage has been extensive.

“Now it’s just a matter of connecting the dots,” he said.

The ice cancelled school and all sporting events for most of the week and gave students an unexpected six-day winter vacation.

This time around, though, it wasn’t the falling ice that wreaked the most havoc, it was the falling tree branches.

“We lost some trees around town that can never be replaced,” said Moncks Corner Mayor Bill Peagler, who praised the work of the town’s fire, police and public service departments for rising to the call of duty during the storm.

“The police and fire departments quickly handled all emergency calls and the public service department worked tirelessly to keep the major roadways clear of fallen branches.

“Our departments worked together with the power companies and county crews to keep the roads clean of debris and problems to a minimum.

“Their hard work is greatly appreciated, especially during times of emergency.”

Moncks Corner Fire Chief David Miller said he and Publice Services Director Butch Svagerko kept in close contact over the course of the three-day storm.

“It was dangerous out there on Thursday,” Miller said. “It was particularly bad when the rain and slushy stuff started building up. It got ugly.

“When I got out Friday my first thought was, not since Hugo have I seen a mess like this.

“Fortunately nobody got hurt. There were no real big structure fires.

“Mostly it came down to keeping the roads clear of debris and our department along with the Publice Service Department did our best to stay ahead of the storm and keep the roads clear of downed limbs and potentially dangerous situations.”

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