When Michele Shaw turned 44, there was no cake, and the only candles were the ones providing minimal light in her mobile home on Feb. 11.
To support American Red Cross Disaster Relief, go to redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The Red Cross has provided more than 10,000 meals and snacks since Thursday to those affected by the winter storm in the Palmetto S.C. Region. The Red Cross also opened 26 shelters, with more than 800 overnight stays.
The Palmetto region covers 35 of 46 counties in South Carolina. The Carolina Lowcountry chapter serves Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Hampton and Jasper counties.
"I was like 'Great, happy birthday to me,'?" Shaw said Monday.
Shaw, of Old Gilliard Road in Berkeley County near Holly Hill, still doesn't have power, five days after the lights went off because of the winter storm.
"It was 40 degrees in the house when we woke up today," she said.
Shaw is not alone in the dark. More than 1,000 Berkeley Electric Cooperative customers were still without power early Monday night, along with 123 SCE&G customers in Berkeley County, although the numbers were dropping by the hour. Around 38,000 homes around the state were without power because of the storm that caused frozen tree branches to knock down power lines.
Phillip McCravy, who lives near Shaw, picked up more propane for his generator Monday afternoon. He has spent about $450 so far to keep it going.
"Just trying to keep my family warm," he said. "We just have our fingers crossed we get power tonight."
During a conference call Monday, Gov. Nikki Haley offered the co-ops any help she can to get power back. The governor has committed law enforcement resources to help establish hazard-free environments for crews to continue restoration work. And the Department of Transportation continues to assist with debris removal.
Communities in Berkeley County with customers without power include Cross, Eadytown, Alvin, Greentown, Cooper Store, Longridge, Wilson Landing, 41 Section, Lebanon, Pineville, Bonneau, Macedonia, Jamestown, portions of St. Stephen, Cordesville, Church of God Road, Shulerville and Macedonia.
SCE&G reported that 416 customers were without power Monday afternoon in Dorchester County, according to the utility company's outage table.
Berkeley Electric has restored power to 83,247 customers since Wednesday.
The American Red Cross, which opened shelters for those dealing with power outages, announced some shelter closures Monday as power was restored to more homes. The St. Stephen Elementary School shelter was shut down and transitioned to Russell Hill Christian Church, at 1681 S.C. Highway 35.
The organization also provided meals at three locations in Berkeley and Dorchester counties Monday afternoon.
Berkeley County Emergency Management crews and contracted teams still were assessing damage Monday, according to Tom Smith, agency director.
A rough initial road survey was estimated at about 75,000 cubic yards of debris damage, Smith said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has representatives in the area conducting their initial assessment of damage.
Haley declared a state of emergency Feb. 11, and President Barack Obama declared an emergency in South Carolina as well.
Derrec Becker, the spokesman for the S.C. Emergency Management Division, which coordinates with FEMA, said it's standard protocol for the agency to deploy to an affected area after the president declares an emergency.
The presence of FEMA does not signify the disbursement of public money to individuals, which is often a common misconception, Becker said. It would take the destruction of 100 uninsured homes for FEMA to provide that type of assistance, he said.
FEMA may provide financial assistance to public infrastructures that suffered damage, but that has not been determined yet.
While the damage was not as widespread as that of a hurricane, the storm did bring back memories to Shaw of South Carolina's last big storm.
"It looked like Hurricane Hugo came through here," Shaw said.
Shaw spent the night in her mobile home when the winter storm hit.
"People don't comprehend. The north area wasn't hit as bad but inland it was a different ball game," she said.
Shaw said she could hear the storm outside and felt the ground shake when tree branches would fall.
"As the ice got heavier, it was like bombs going off," she said. "You could hear the trees snap. You could see the white ice showering down as the tree limbs were falling."
McCravy, her neighbor, was still picking up debris in his yard on Monday afternoon. Branches and limbs hung from the trees on his property.
"I've seen a lot of stuff, but nothing like this," he said.
Shaw never expected the storm to be as bad as it was since she didn't even lose power a few weeks ago when snow came down, she said. Fortunately, there was no damage to her home.
"I was very blessed. The things that were falling, nothing hit my trailer," she said. "I'm very glad for that."
The worst of it for Shaw was the lack of water and power to the home, she said.
"Saturday I had enough and went to St. George and went to a hotel," she said. "It was just no fun."
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.
After using the food she could in her refrigerator since losing electrical power early last Wednesday morning in Pineville in upper Berkeley County, Maxine Wilson (center) brought her children to Russellville Christian Church where Red Cross Disaster Relief served hot meals on Monday evening, February 17, 2014. Wade Spees/Staff×
Limbs down are a common sight in Russellville and other parts of upper Berkeley County on Monday, February 17, 2014. Wade Spees/Staff×
Gary Rentzel and his 17-year-old son Austin clear tree limbs broken during last week's winter storm at the Russellville Christian Church playground where children played while waiting for hot meals to arrive from the Red Cross Disaster Relief on Monday, February 17, 2014. Wade Spees/Staff×
After using the food she could in her refrigerator since losing power early Wednesday morning in Pineville in upper Berkeley County, Maxine Wilson (center) brought her children to Russellville Christian Church, where Red Cross Disaster Relief served hot meals on Monday.×
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