NEWBERRY COUNTY — Hurricane Florence came and went over the weekend, and while the storm made its way through Newberry County, it left thousands without power throughout the weekend.
Newberry Electric Cooperative reported that the most outages they had at a given time was 1,074, primarily due to downed trees, downed lines and five broken poles. The City of Newberry Utilities Department reported that approximately 300 customers throughout the weekend were affected with power outages. All of them were caused by tree limbs hitting power lines.
“With the exception of a few scattered outages, it was fairly calm until Saturday evening,” said Debra Shaw, vice president of Member and Public Relations at the Coop. “The longest time frame that members were without power on average was two to three hours. Restoration included replacing poles, cutting trees off the line and putting lines back up.”
Tim Baker, director of the Utility Department with the City of Newberry, said most customers experienced an outage for one hour or less.
“The longest outage occurred where an electric pole needed to be replaced due to a fallen tree, which took several hours and impacted a small number of customers,” he said.
During the weekend, the Newberry County Water and Sewer Authority had two water main breaks on Sunday, but neither break was attributed to the storm.
“The storm had very minimum impact on us, attribute most of our success to maintaining power, very thankful to our power suppliers, Newberry Coop and SCE&G, they were able to maintain electrical service to our facility throughout most of the weekend, only had one minor power failure in the Newberry Shores areas, and that was early Saturday morning,” said Brent Richardson, manager of NCWSA.
As for the impact of the storm, Baker said one thing that came out of Florence was the thought that they should like to try to loop-feed parts of their system that may not currently have a loop-feed.
“What this would allow is that during the event of an outage, that section of the electrical system could be isolated so that it only impacts a small section of customers, rather than a large group,” he said.
With the work that was put in this weekend by the Utility Department, Baker complemented their contract lineman and right-of-way crews for staying back this weekend and helping when needed.
“Our contract right-of-way crew was aggressive prior to Florence in getting tree trimming completed, and had that not been done, damage could have been worse. I think that that was an investment that is paying off,” he said. “The entire city tried to communicate well and work together and I think it paid off well for us.”
“City crews and departments planned throughout the week leading up to Tropical Storm Florence’s arrival in Newberry. Thanks to their efforts we were more than adequately prepared and their diligent and dedicated services throughout the storm kept the roadways cleared and the lights on throughout the City. Their efforts were greatly appreciated as they left their own families during the inclement weather to care for the safety of residents here in town,” said Matt DeWitt, City Manager.
When it comes to other storm related calls from this weekend, both the Newberry County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Newberry Police Department said they received calls about trees down and blocking roadways. Sheriff Lee Foster said they had about 50 trees down this weekend, and there were numerous wrecks.
Keith Minick, Chief of the City of Newberry Fire Department, said they were very fortunate this weekend.
“We tarped a house for a resident that a tree fell on their roof. We responded to a call on Vincent Street to a tree smoking which was possibly due to an electrical line in which City utilities came. The busiest time for us came on Sunday night where we responded to six calls back to back. We responded to a commercial fire alarm at a business where a sprinkler had activated due to a malfunction error. We were also dispatched to two wrecks that resulted in minor injuries where we were called off,” he said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.