Some 77,000 homes and businesses in South Carolina were without power as Tropical Storm Florence marched across the state Saturday afternoon, leaving the northeast corner of the state in the dark for a second day.
The outages were the most severe along the Grand Strand and in the Pee Dee, which took the storm's hardest hit. Close to half came from Horry County alone, where a third of electricity customers didn't have power.
Restoration work moved more slowly in the less-populated areas along the state line. In Dillon County, close to three-quarters of customers were disconnected. In Marion and Marlboro counties, just over half were.
Outages had pushed as far inland as Sumter and Camden, and the storm appeared to spare the state’s biggest cities — Charleston, Columbia and Greenville. Scattered problems were still possible as Florence inched toward the Midlands.
In the hard-hit Myrtle Beach area, Santee Cooper said it had restored power for more than half its customers. The start of the repair effort had been delayed by the storm’s slow pace and its lingering winds.
The same winds were still swirling around the Pee Dee late Thursday, but they had started to subside. As long as they stayed above tropical storm-force levels, they caused headaches: Utilities won’t put line crews to work as long as winds that strong threaten to upend their bucket trucks, and Florence hardly budged as the day passed.
By 5 p.m. Saturday, the number of outages had improved vastly after peaking closer to 170,000 customers.
Florence's damage compares to a peak of 274,000 outages in South Carolina during Tropical Storm Irma last year, and 400,000 after Hurricane Matthew.
The damage was far worse across the state line. More than 670,000 homes and businesses didn’t have power in North Carolina, mostly in the southeast corner of the state.