Weather News

‘Our prayer was answered’: Georgetown breathes sigh of relief after Hurricane Dorian

Georgetown residents clean up debris following Hurricane Dorian

Ronald and Eliane Gray of Georgetown clean up tree branches and debris following Hurricane Dorian.
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Ronald and Eliane Gray of Georgetown clean up tree branches and debris following Hurricane Dorian.

In the days, even hours, as Hurricane Dorian approached Georgetown County and city, officials warned residents about the possible damage.

As it passed the area, Dorian left knee-deep water in the historic riverfront, wind speeds forced emergency responders inside and thousands lost power for hours.

By Friday, it was barely noticeable a hurricane passed by Georgetown.

“Not only through preparation, but through prayer,” Georgetown city Mayor Brendon Barber said, “our prayer was answered.”

Georgetown’s downtown saw flash flooding on Thursday, but by the next morning, business owners removed sandbags and city crews removed the fallen tree debris.

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Georgetown City worker Lorenzo Drayton picks up a fallen tree branch on Front Street on Friday morning. Alex Lang

Locals took to their rakes to remove debris from their yards, including Ronald And Elaine Gray on Cannon Street. Their clean-up will take a bit longer, a 12-foot tree about three feet wide fell in their yard.

“I could see it going and going,” Elaine said, waving her hand back and forth to demonstrate how the tree nudged closer and closer to toppling over.

The couple watched the tree sway back and forth and eventually snap, which they expected given how much it wavered during the hurricane. The renters said their property manager said he would come by in days to remove the tree.

Georgetown loses power

The City of Georgetown twice lost power for hours during Hurricane Dorian, leaving all 8,000 residents in the dark.

Barber said there was an issue with the feed from a Santee Cooper line and the town lost power from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and again from 8:30 p.m. until midnight.

He admitted that residents were naturally frustrated with the outages, but the city successfully shared the message about the cause and restoration efforts.

Power was restored to the entire town by Friday, sans a handful of customers who might have had tree branches on a power line, Barber said.

Officials assess damage

Georgetown County avoided significant damage in most areas, spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said. The storm happened at the same time as high tide, and while many areas avoided damage, not all were that lucky.

“The beaches took a beating,” she said.

In Pawleys Island, storm surge removed half the sand dunes and washed them onto nearby properties. Beachfront homes were spared any significant damage and residents said they were happy with the result.

“It’s nerve-racking,” said Jody Tamsberg as he looked as his beachfront property. “All in all we’re pleased with what we’re finding.”

Gov. Henry Mcmaster and Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall speak in Georgetown County following Hurricane Florence. The two toured coastal South Carolina to see the damage from the storm.

Gov. Henry McMaster, who spoke during a news conference at the Georgetown County’s emergency operation center, said officials took a helicopter tour along the coast to assess the damage.

Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said highway and National guards crews worked to reopen the southern roads on Pawleys Island.

“Pawleys Island is currently our highest priority in this area,” she said.

McMaster said the storm had wind gusts off the coast measured up to 90 mph. The storm’s path was beneficial, he said, and a five-mile shift inland would have caused significantly more damage.

“We were fortunate the winds kept it off the coast,” McMaster said.

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Alex Lang is the True Crime reporter for The Sun News covering the legal system and how crime impacts local residents. He says letting residents know if they are safe is a vital role of a newspaper. Alex has covered crime in Detroit, Iowa, New York City, West Virginia and now Horry County.