Tropical Storm Michael downs trees, causes power outages locally

October 12, 2018

4:30 p.m.

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 2,430 outages in Aiken County. Aiken Electric Cooperative is reporting 777 outages in Aiken County.

1:55 p.m.

SCE&G is reporting that there are outages affected 3,234 customers in Aiken County. Aiken Electric Cooperative is reporting that there are outages affecting 1,340 of its customers in Aiken County.

1:50 p.m.

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.

12 p.m.

Representatives of several equine facilities in the Aiken area reported that Michael didn’t cause serious problems for the most part.

Janis McGhee, however, reported that the storm damaged the roofs of three barns at McGhees’ Mile.

“The trees came through it good,” she said. “There aren’t many limbs down at all.”

At the Aiken Training Track, President Cary Frommer said: “We have some branches down, but that’s the worst of it. We never lost electricity. We’re feeling pretty lucky.”

At Stable View, “we’re doing great,” said Office Manager Amber Lee. “We don’t have trees down. There is very minimal debris. We didn’t lose power at all.”

Aiken Horse Park Foundation Vice President and Treasurer Tara Bostwick reported that her husband, Charlie, told her that he didn’t see any damage at Bruce’s Field while he was in that area of Aiken after the worst of the storm was over.

But Charlie, who is the president of the Aiken Polo Club’s board of directors, did say that a tree or large limb had fallen and damaged a fence at the Powderhouse Polo Field.

He also said there was no damage at Whitney Field, but added that the pavilion there “will take some cleaning up.”

11:10 a.m.

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.

11:06 a.m.

Hitchcock Woods in Aiken is closed, according to a statement issued by the Hitchcock Woods Foundation.

A team is going into the woods this afternoon to assess any damage and figure out when the preserve can reopen, according to the same statement.

10:55 a.m.

SCE&G is reporting 5,995 customers without power in Aiken County. Aiken Electric Cooperative is reporting 4,310.

Numbers are dropping.

10:30 a.m.

SCE&G reported, “Power has been restored to the portion of Woodside served by SCE&G. Most of the areas around the (H. Odell) Weeks Center are now back on. The biggest outage areas remaining in the Aiken area are along Hayne Avenue and along both sides of Richland Avenue between Vaucluse Road and Gregg Highway.” The company also reported there are many other “scattered areas of outages” throughout the City of Aiken.

10:20 a.m.

SCE&G is reporting that there are 7,301 customers in Aiken County with power outages. Aiken Electric Cooperative has 5,779 customers with outages.

10:05 a.m.

ADPS is investigating a blown transformer on a power line behind Benjamin Moore on Whiskey Road.

10:01 a.m.

Earlier this morning, the Jackson Volunteer Fire Department reported on Facebook the following road closures because of debris at the following locations: Jackson Road between Thomas and Main Street, Silverton Street at Charles Street and Green Pond near DeSoto Drive.

9:51 a.m.

According to scanner reports, there is a tree down that is blocking the train tracks near Chesterfield Street in Aiken.

9:48 a.m.

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon posted the following message on Facebook: “A big thank you to our men and women of ADPS (Aiken Department of Public Safety) for putting these generators at major intersections without power and to our Aiken Public Works team that has responded to 27 trees that have come down and cleared all but 5 (they are working with SCE&G on these). Please be safe if you have to be out these crews are still working.”

9:43 a.m.

Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian has provided the following update for the county:

“We have just completed the latest statewide conference call regarding the hurricane and it looks like we have fared well again. Thankfully, we did delay opening the offices until 11:00 (a.m.) to allow sufficient time for the sun to come up and the rain to subside so folks would be able to see debris in the road.

“When I came in about 4:30 this morning, which turned out to be the height of the storm for our area, there were several large limbs and debris in the road, but nothing too significant. Still, the obstacles were difficult to see in the dark, thus my decision to delay opening. The City of Aiken also delayed until 11:00 and the City of North Augusta delayed until 10:00.

“Most of the storm is now out of our area with what is left of the core about 50 miles north-northwest of Columbia. The tornado threat is significantly reduced, but there is a possibility of another 2-3 inches of rain. That is probably on the high side.

“We have two shelters open with 29 folks in them. We remain at OpCon 1, but will probably lower that readiness level soon if not return to normal operations. We have only one report of a tree on a house in downtown Aiken, but don’t know the extent of the damage. Also have a couple of tree/car encounters, but have not had any reported injuries.

“The weather station on the roof of the Government Center recorded a top gust of 41 mph and 3.8 inches of rain. No reports of major road issues yet and don’t anticipate any at the moment.”

Killian also said that about 17,000 people countywide are without power. The Aiken County Judicial Center is without power. The Aiken County Animal Shelter and the Aiken County Detention Center are without power. The Detention Center is on generator power. The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office was without power, but it has recently been restored.

9:20 a.m.

According to scanner reports, there is a tree blocking the road on Glenwood Drive near Pathfinder Lane in Aiken.

9:18 a.m.

According to scanner reports, there is a brush fire under a power line on Butler Road near Brer Rabbit Road in Aiken.

9:10 a.m.

Aiken County government offices will not open until 11 a.m. Thursday because of possibly hazardous driving conditions, according to a post on the Aiken County Emergency Management Division’s page on Facebook.

9:02 a.m.

Aiken Electric Cooperative is reporting that there are power outages affecting 7,645 of its customers in Aiken County.

9 a.m.

Lt. Jake Mahoney of the Aiken Department of Public City had this to say about conditions in Aiken:

“We’re experiencing what most people would expect after a night of very high winds and several inches of rain. There are sporadic power outages in different neighborhoods and locations across the city. We have had reports of a number of trees down and large branches blocking the roadways. But most of those either have been or are in the process of being addressed right now.

“There is debris on the roadways, anything from small branches and limbs to trash cans that were blown into the roadway. Along with the debris, there is standing water throughout the city.

“As of right now, things are starting to improve, but it will take us a couple more hours to catch up. Now that it’s daylight, we’re starting to locate more hazards. Most of those are on secondary roads, not necessarily on the main roadways.

“With power outages that means traffic signals are down and not functioning. We want to caution people that if a traffic signal is not functioning, you need to treat it as a four-way stop before you proceed.Definitely use caution. Right now, the stretch of Whiskey Road from basically South Boundary to Silver Bluff Road is without power and all the traffic signals are down, so use caution. If you don’t have to be on the road, don’t (travel).

“Let us catch up. Let our public works crews get the roads cleared. Let our utility workers get the power restored. And let our emergency crews do what they need to do as safely possible.

“We should hopefully see some significant improvement in the weather and the roadway conditions here in the next couple of hours.”

8:40 a.m.

The Union Street bridge in downtown Aiken was struck by a fallen tree. The bridge sustained “structural damage,” according to one Aiken Department of Public Safety officer – a guardrail on the bridge is banged up and bent over.

Down the road, city of Aiken crews are working to clear debris, limbs and trees.

Some Union Street residents are outside watching the crews work.

8:35 a.m.

According to scanner reports, a transformer has blown on Silver Bluff Road in Aiken and power lines are down. Also there is a large tree limb on a building on Park Avenue in Aiken.

8:30 a.m.

SCEG has 11,115 customers in Aiken County without power.

8:20 a.m.

According to scanner reports, there is a limb in the power lines on Lancaster Street in Aiken.

8:10 a.m.

According to the National Weather Service in Columbia, there was a peak wind gust of 46 miles per hour at the Aiken Municipal Airport at 5:15 a.m. There also was a peak wind gust near New Ellenton of 39 miles per hour at 5:07 a.m.

8:00 a.m.

According to scanner reports, a tree is on fire on Powell Pond Road near Aiken. And it is blocking part of the road.

7:35 a.m.

Aiken Technical College announced that it would have a delayed opening Thursday. According to a press release, campus offices will open at 11 a.m. and employees should plan to report at that time unless other arrangements are made with their supervisor. Classes remain canceled.

USC Aiken is also operating on a delayed schedule. Employees are asked to report to work starting at 11 a.m., according to the university’s website. Thursday classes at USCA are canceled.

City of Aiken offices will open at 11 a.m., according to information pushed out by the city early Thursday morning. There will be no trash collection in the city today, and all outdoor activities – Parks and Recreation Department events – for example, are canceled.

7:15 a.m.

Downgraded to a tropical storm after slamming the Florida Panhandle as a terrifying Category 4 hurricane, Michael roared into Aiken County early Thursday morning still packing a significant punch.

Aiken County Emergency Management Director Paul Matthews provided the Aiken Standard the following report before daylight:

“Obviously we’ve had some wind through the evening. We saw a gust here (at the Aiken County Government Center) of 41 miles per hour. That’s from our weather station on the roof. We’ve also had 3.81 inches of rain.

“Obviously, we’ve had heavy downpours through the night. Obviously, with that, we’ve had trees down and power outages. And obviously, we’ve had vehicle accidents. I’ve heard of people running off the road and hitting trees, 18-wheelers jackknifing on the interstate and things like that.

“I have not heard of any structural damage at this point. We’ve got guys monitoring that, and I have not heard of anything from that standpoint. We’re having typical issues – traffic accidents, trees down, power outages, power lines down, those types of things.”

Matthews also provided information on power outages.

He said SCE&G had 10,206 customers without power in Aiken County. Aiken Electric Cooperative had 5,823 and Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative had 86.

Dede Biles, Colin Demarest, Tripp Girardeau, Cindy Kubovic and Anthony Scannella contributed to this story.

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