Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- After the ice storm, iconic South Boundary Avenue is almost unrecognizable.
"I worry so much about, you know, how long it's going to take them to get power back, because the branches still keep falling," says Dennis Terry who lives nearby.
Falling branches and limbs barely missed Terry's York Street home.
"We bought it about ten years ago and remodeled it and relandscaped it, and now we're going to have to do a lot of that again," he says.
In Downtown Aiken, it's more of the same. The Alley is full of ice and splintered trees. Laurens Street and Park Avenue are covered in a blanket of ice and branches. Many of the 20 year old trees that beautify downtown are destroyed. Crews worked late Thursday at chopping some of them up, however, many still remain. In other parts of Downtown Aiken, large trees still block entire streets.
"For a while, it compared to '04 when we a significant ice storm back then, but it's surpassed that. it's the worst in my almost 30 years," says SCE&G District Manager Clayton Quattlebaum.
Quattlebaum and his men are trying to make a dent in thousands of outages. He says it's not as simple as flipping a switch.
"It's much harder than a hurricane or a summer thunderstorm when restoration can go through the night," he says.
In South Aiken, near Aiken Estates, a crew from Groves Electric, based out of Kentucky, helped SCE&G remove a tall pine from power lines in a procedure almost as delicate as brain surgery.
"Patience is a premium in an ice storm. it really is. I empathize with all our customers. Myself or any of us have power at our homes," he says.
Quattlebaum says he has 100 out-of-state contractors here in this part of the state right now. Soon he hopes to have 200 from as far away as Michigan.
At last check, SCE&G reports 33,137 outages in Aiken County. Aiken Electric Coop reports 10,892.
Lt. Jake Mahoney with Aiken Public Safety says people should continue to stay off roadways for their own safety and for the safety of emergency personnel.
The Aiken County EOC says the South Carolina National Guard will soon be deployed to help remove downed trees. Gov. Nikki Haley plans to survey the damage on Friday.
Meanwhile, Aiken High School has opened it's doors as an overnight shelter.