WALTERBORO - Downed power lines, fallen trees and people wondering when their electric service would return greeted Gov. Nikki Haley here on Friday.
When will the power return?
South Carolina Electric & Gas
Charleston County: 10 p.m. Saturday
Berkeley County: 10 p.m. Sunday
Dorchester County: 11 p.m. Sunday
(Estimates are for 95 percent of customers)
The utility said it expects that all customers will have service restored by Saturday morning.
Berkeley Electric Cooperative
Power has been restored to more than 60,000 customers. Outages will continue through the weekend in some areas and possibly into next week. Emergency shelters are open at St. Stephen Elementary School and Berkeley Middle School.
"It's a war zone out there, let me tell you," said Larry Hinz, chief executive officer of Coastal Electric Cooperative.
About 8,000 Colleton County customers were without power, Hinz said.
South Carolina Electric & Gas also was working to restore service to 12,700 customers in the county. Edisto Electric Cooperative said at least 8,000 of its customers were without power.
Haley said the situation in Colleton County was worse than what the community faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo.
"We never thought we would see this much damage," she said. "It's devastating to see what has happened in this community."
Earlier in the day, Haley visited hard-hit Aiken County where 29,000 SCE&G customers still were without power.
In Walterboro, she spoke with SCE&G linemen working to repair damage on North Lemacks Street.
"You are angels," she said. "The entire state is just so grateful."
The linemen said they were working 18-hour shifts.
Her entourage of five Chevrolet Tahoes then motored through the Forest Hills neighborhood where power lines hung in trees.
"The people are cold, but they have food," said Barry Moore, publisher of the Walterboro Press & Standard newspaper. He said power was out at his house. Moore said he had seen long lines outside fast-food restaurants.
Haley visited a public shelter at Colleton County Middle School where about 50 people were staying. She spent time with shelter residents, who ranged from children to the elderly. She praised the efforts of Red Cross and state Department of Social Services workers.
A closed-door meeting between utility officials, local leaders and Haley was followed by a press conference at which she said the ice storm knocked down more utility poles than a hurricane.
South Carolina had 221,000 electric customers in the dark and 37 public shelters with food, water and cots, she said. Progress was being made, she noted, because on Thursday 350,000 were without power. She worried about elderly residents being unwilling to leave home.
The worst damage was in rural areas outside of Columbia and Charleston, mostly served by smaller utilities under The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.
"Some of our co-ops have never seen the damage on this scale before. For them, this has been a storm of historic proportions," said Todd Carter, vice president of loss control and training for the organization.
It was the worst storm to hit South Carolina in a decade. The federal government agreed with Haley's request to declare the state a disaster area, making it eligible for federal aid. It was the first time South Carolina had a declared disaster since 2006. No other state in the nation had been spared longer.
A man died Thursday afternoon in Berkeley County, likely from carbon monoxide poisoning as he tried to heat his home with a charcoal grill, Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said.
Another person died and a second was injured in a house fire while trying to heat their home with the power out Thursday in Marion, authorities said. A 72-year-old Hartsville man found dead on a baseball field not far from his home during the storm had died from the cold.
The Highway Patrol blamed at least two traffic deaths on icy conditions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.