Lexington County, SC (Paul Kirby) – Strong thunderstorms ripped through Lexington County Sunday afternoon felling trees, dropping limbs, powerlines, and damaging some structures before it quickly moved over and east of us. During its height, and in its wake, first responders dashed from call to call as the phone lines at the county’s 911 center were jammed with citizens calling to report the damage.
The worst of the storm seemed to motor down the I-20 corridor leaving a swath of damage on both of its sides. The damage appeared to be widespread as trees and various utility lines fell in Gilbert, Pond Branch, Round Hill, Red Bank, Lexington, and the Cayce and West Columbia areas. Irmo wasn’t spared either as their fire crews responded to dozens of requests for help, but in most cases, all they could do was mark off the downed lines, move what limbs and trees they could, and have the dispatch center notify the appropriate utility company or road crews to respond.
There were homes damaged by felled trees in several communities but the most significant damage to structures seemed to be in the area of Semm Sease Road close to Hayes Crossing just east of Gilbert. There, a chicken grower for House of Raeford, lost a large portion of the metal sheeting that was the roof for at least one of the poultry growing houses on the farm. The metal roofing flew as far out as Wire Road where it was strewn across the yards of several homes and was hanging from trees on the roadside. In that same area, several mobile homes were damaged, and in some cases, their underpinning had been blown out and was lying across a wide area. Fire service officials were notifying the American Red Cross’s Disaster Relief Team to assist several of the homeowners whose residences were damaged to the point that they wouldn’t be able to stay in them in the condition they were in after the storm.
In Lexington, a tree fell across the railroad track near Railroad Avenue forcing the train to stop quickly. This blocked South Lake Drive for some time and caused a traffic snarl that necessitated the Lexington Police Department commit several officers until crews could clear the tree and the train could move on. Even on major thoroughfares like Sunset Boulevard trees came down close to the Target, blocking some lanes until they could be removed. Pilgrim Church Road was also closed for a long time as a fire service official stood by at a storm made barricade and traffic was again a major issue until that could be cleared.
After the storm passed, and it did so quickly, there was just rain and plenty of debris in the roads, water puddling in the low spots, and lines of every type down across our county. It will take some time for power crews to restore all the power and public works and SCDOT employees have a long cleanup in front of them. When the worst had past, once again, our first responders had risen to the task of dealing with the wrath of Mother Nature and prevailed in minimizing the impact of a very strong spring storm.