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Fallen trees and power outages: How South Carolina crews are cleaning up after Hurricane Ian

After a tree fell onto the building at Ahepa Apartments in Irmo, 16 residents have been safely evacuated and cleanup efforts have begun.

IRMO, S.C. — Storm clean-up efforts are underway after the Midlands saw severe weather from Hurricane Ian. AHEPA Apartments in Irmo is one of the properties that saw damaging effects from the storm after a tree landed on the building Friday evening.

No one was injured, but 16 residents have been evacuated including resident Dell-Ann McGlothlin.

RELATED: Power returning quickly, but Ian recovery in South Carolina may take time

"My plants started falling down, dust was flying all over the place," McGlothlin told me.

She was sitting in her home and had just gotten up to grab something from the kitchen when all of a sudden, she heard a loud noise. 

"And I saw the hole in my wall about three feet wide and from the top to the bottom and I couldn’t figure out...why was there a hole in my wall? What put a hole in it?" she said. "Then I went to the window and saw that this tree, it was two trees, that had fallen."

Crews are working now to address this fallen tree, as well as other storm cleanup efforts throughout the Midlands. 

Sloane Valentino with Irmo Fire District says six extra personnel members were brought in on Friday to prepare for the weather.

RELATED: Hurricane Ian moves through South Carolina; clean-up begins

"The world broke loose," Valentino explained about the day, which had initially started out quiet. "The winds were not particularly high, in fact, they had died down, but all at once we had this call behind me, three other trees across roads, two other homes impacted by trees, and multiple fire alarms and reports of wires down."

At this point, Valentino says most of the concerns have been addressed. 

"It happened during the remnants of a hurricane, but in reality stuff like this happens whenever we get severe thunderstorms through the district," Valentino said. "This is fairly normal for us."

Now, tree services are taking over according to Bear Tree Care owner Andrew Nedwick.

"We’re just going from most dangerous down as far as what jobs we take on first and just getting everything taken care of as quick as we can," Nedwick explained. "We’ve got all the tree services in the area, they’re all working."

Nedwick says starting Sunday, his crew will be working around the clock.

"We’re gonna work sun up to sun down and then at night we have scene lighting if it’s a real emergency type thing goin' on," Nedwick said.
"So if it goes into the night we can set up the scene lighting and we can keep on working."

RELATED: How to report a power outage in South Carolina

He expects total cleanup to take about a week, with work at Ahepa Apartments expected to take approximately two and a half days.

His team isn’t the only one hard at work. Matthew Long with Dominion Energy says linemen are out restoring power to homes and monitoring potential future outages.

"In the Midlands, we rode through the storm pretty well," Long said about the outages. "Even though the storm has passed, we do expect to see some outages continue to fluctuate as maybe a branch that’s hanging down snaps off or another potential reason, a tree that’s dipping and hanging is suddenly - [it] falls over even though the storm has passed now, so we are expecting that number to continue to fluctuate."

Long expects power to be restored for all South Carolinians by sundown Saturday.

When it comes to any future trees or limbs that may fall, Valentino had some important advice.

"Anything that’s a life safety issue, by all means, call 911. If you have an issue with a tree, your best bet is to call a tree service," Valentino said. "They’re the subject matter experts on telling you what’s wrong with the tree, how to get rid of a tree."

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