Tropical Storm Michael moved quickly past Aiken, causing some damage, power outages
Tropical Storm Michael tore across several Southeast states on Thursday, bringing gusting wind and rain to Aiken.
Michael was just shy of a Category 5 hurricane when it roared ashore in Florida on Wednesday afternoon with winds of 155 miles per hour. It passed over Aiken as a tropical storm Thursday morning with winds of 20 mph, peaking at gusts of 41 mph.
Fallen trees and strong winds resulted in power outages in homes, businesses and at some intersections.
SCE&G’s peak outages Thursday morning were just under 75,000 system-wide and between 10,000 and 11,000 in Aiken County, according to Eric Boomhower, a company spokesman.
At their peak Thursday morning, outages for Aiken Electric Cooperative affected 7,972 customers in Aiken County, said Muriel Carter Gouffray, manager of marketing and strategic services. System-wide, the peak number of customers affected by outages was 9,739.
With crews busy making repairs, the number of power outages is continuing to drop locally in the wake of Tropical Storm Michael. SCE&G is reporting 1,045. outages in Aiken County. Aiken Electric Cooperative is reporting 12 outages in Aiken County as of 9 p.m Thursday.
Representatives of several equine facilities in the Aiken area reported that Michael didn’t cause serious problems for the most part.
However, President of the Aiken Polo Club’s board of directors Charlie Bostwick said a fence at Powderhouse Polo Field was damaged during the storm, and Janis McGhee of McGhees’ Mile reported storm damage to the roofs of three barns.
Although the weather did cause some moderate flooding along Richland Avenue and resulted in hazardous driving conditions for a few hours, officials said Aiken County was relatively unscathed by the storm.
Lt. Jake Mahoney, with Aiken Public Safety, said the agency was busy Thursday morning taking reports all over the City of Aiken. During the storm, strong winds caused some streets to be showered by debris and took down some trees and branches.
“We saw some winds that had an impact on some trees and power lines, but we were definitely fortunate the storm moved through so quickly,” Mahoney said.
Fallen trees caused power outages, which led to some traffic issues throughout the morning. Intersections with dead traffic lights were reported on Augusta Road and Whiskey Road, with crews working quickly to restore power and to fix blown transformers.
“The rapid response of the public works crews was really amazing to see – by 9 a.m., Whiskey Road was clear,” Mahoney said.
Aiken County Director of Emergency Management Paul Matthews reported around 4 inches of rain had fallen by 9 a.m. at the Government Center.
“We did see a significant amount of rain, but we didn’t get that saturation you normally see when it rains for an extended period of time,” Mahoney said.
The storm moving so quickly through Aiken County kept the serious issues to a minimum, Mahoney said.
“Schools being closed, along with businesses and the government doing a late start, also helped out tremendously (Thursday) morning, keeping an unnecessary amount of traffic off the roadways while public works crews worked to fix issues around the city,” Mahoney said. “Aiken Public Safety responded to very few collisions caused by conditions due to the storm.”
Kristina Rackley, Dede Biles, Colin Demarest, Tripp Girardeau, Cindy Kubovic and Anthony Scannella contributed to this story.