Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – It will be difficult to make anyone in the Hartley family of Leesville believe that Hurricane Florence, and later Tropical Storm Florence, was a nonevent for Lexington County. Their loved one, Rhonda Rebecca Hartley, 30, died in a wreck attributed to the storm. The same could be said for the family on Wire Road near Gilbert who lost the entire roof of their mobile-home when it simply peeled off like a sardine can. Another family had a tree hit their home in West Columbia, that happened at several other places too, but they were light hits at best and for the most part it was amazing how lucky we were right here in Lexington County. The storms just never really did get cranked up and do much here.
Friday afternoon, trees and limbs started being toppled by some gusts seemingly coordinated with rain squalls. Of course, these made powerlines come down too. As soon as those calls came in, the county’s 911 center sent the appropriate agency, dispatched the utility company through a coordinated effort with their call-takers, and had either the county’s public works department, the SCDOT, or someone enroute to clear the road fast. It was really amazing to see the speed at which our problems were handled.
Friday afternoon, things slowed a bit and we went out for a look around. The gusts of wind would sometimes give our car a little nudge, but I don’t ever remember having to use the high setting on the windshield wipers. We checked all the traditional places for flooding like Old Sate Road, State Street, and others, but truthfully, it wasn’t any worse that any real rain storm we’d have during the winter. One of the most frustrating things that can happen to a reporter is to have nothing to report; How many times can you make saying, “it’s raining and windy” interesting anyway? That’s really the way it was through most of this.
You might not like public employees when you have a pothole on your road, kids keep painting ugly stuff on the stop sign, or the neighbor’s dogs knock over your trash, but during this event, they moved with lightning speed to get things back in order.
Ask me if my power bills are too high and I would probably say yes. Ask me to grade the response of both MCEC and SCE&G here during this storm and I would say A++! There were several instances where cars hit utility poles and broke them completely in two and in a very short time, the pole was replaced, and the power was back on. Where those poles and workers came from I don’t know, but they got here fast!
In short, they were ready for this. The week to prepare and review, years of practice, stockpiling of supplies, and spending on the right things, made this storm a breeze! Don’t just thank our first-responders when you see them, thank anyone and everyone that got out there and helped.
For those few of you who complained about our kids being out of school for a week, the traffic, all the bread and milk you now have going bad on the counter, remember this. One little turn took Florence away from us and another could have brought it right here and parked it on us. There are places that are knocked flat and completely under water. Firefighters were photographed praying for a mother and child who were killed. I could go on and on, but I won’t. We have plenty to be thankful for here for sure. In the words of the old southern gospel hymn, “Count your many blessings name them one by one.” I sure am.