COLUMBIA, S.C. — Less than a day after the now-former hurricane known as Ian wreaked havoc on residents across South Carolina, recovery efforts are already underway - and that includes the restoration of power.
During a press conference with state officials including Gov. Henry McMaster on Saturday, Nanette Edwards, the director of the Office of Regulatory Staff, provided an update on the power outage situation across the state.
Edwards said that, on Friday, power outages had risen to just shy of 240,000 with a majority of those being along the coast and others scattered as far west as the South Carolina Midlands.
"As of noon today, we're just over 35,000," Edwards said. "So, that was a record restoration event."
Citing numbers from just after 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, Edwards said Dominion Energy had about 83% of its outages restored. As of noon, that was further lowed to a total customer count of about 11,000. As of noon, electric cooperatives across the state cumulatively reported about 12,000 outages, Santee Cooper reported just under 6,000, and Duke reported just over 5,700.
Edwards thanked linemen and women who worked around the clock to restore electrical service, adding that most remaining power outages will likely be resolved by the end of the day.
But while electrical grid repairs saw significant progress, the overall process of picking up the pieces from the first hurricane to make landfall in South Carolina since 2016 isn't over just yet, particularly on the coast.
South Carolina Emergency Management Director Kim Stenson said that the area from Charleston north to Horry County and "the next tier of counties" above it were among the hardest hit.
Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said that significant recovery efforts in regard to state roads are already heavily underway on Pawley's Island and in Garden City.
"We anticipate anywhere from two to four days of work in those areas," Hall said. "Of course, we will work sun-up to sun-down and stay there and remain committed to that mission until it is completed.
Storm surge also damaged or destroyed multiple piers in the areas of Georgetown and Horry counties and the tide at one location in Myrtle Beach is now the third highest on record there. That tide, according to a National Weather Service (NWS) spokesperson, was only surpassed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
But, despite that, Emergency Management Director Stenson suggested that major damage reports remained fairly limited in scope. He said that, based on preliminary damage figures, six electric cooperatives reported some level of damage, three counties reported infrastructure damage, eight counties reported residential damage and five counties reported business damage. However, these numbers could increase in the days to come.
"Given the current situation, we expect all county emergency operations centers to transition back to steady state operations today, but with ongoing emphasis on damage assessment and cleanup operations," Stenson said adding that the state emergency operations center would follow suit.
He suggested that South Carolina residents check their homes for electrical and sewer system damage and take pictures of any damage found to use for insurance claims and potential disaster assistance. He also said residents should check their homes for mold. He said that any damage found can be reported to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division through the agency's phone app.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina Department of Transportation is already working to repair damage and clear roads with more than 1,100 downed trees already removed, according to Transportation Secretary Hall.
The many efforts to recover from Friday's weather will, fortunately, be aided by the weather expected in the days to come.
The NWS spokesperson said that no significant river flooding is expected in the state and the weather, for the most part, should be amicable to recovery efforts.