Ice, wind cause outages, damage in Blythewood and Fairfield County

A lineman working to restore power in Blythewood. | Contributed


BLYTHEWOOD – After Sunday’s icy winter storm knocked out power to about 12,000 Fairfield Electric Coop customers, linemen had restored power to all but a few off them by 11 p.m., Monday night.

“The outages were widespread over our entire territory,” Vice President of Member Services Doug Payne told The Voice Wednesday morning. “Altogether, we probably had about 12,000 of our members without power at some point. Some of those were on major circuits where we could restore power pretty quickly.”

All but a very few had power restored by Monday night. Those few needed repairs on their individual services Payne said, and were pretty well taken care of by Tuesday.

Tree damage to horse fencing on a farm in Blythewood. | Contributed

“With wires down everywhere and broken poles, it took time to work through the territory,” he said.

“The key to getting service restored so quickly was not only the hard work and dedication of our linemen, but also the assistance we received from partner cooperatives,” Payne said. “Several crews from the Akin and York cooperatives as well as contractors and right-of-way contractors came in to help us.”

With more icy weather forecast for this weekend, Payne said these partners are on standby if Fairfield needs them again.

Payne said he posted updates on Facebook in an effort to keep members informed of where the cooperative was in getting repairs made.

Many members also turned to Facebook to thank the linemen for their work.

Our members were out of power and cold, but they were patient with us, and that helped a lot,” Payne said. “Our linemen were working as quickly and as safely as they possibly could to get power restored, and we appreciated our members’ patience.”

Payne said he’s monitoring the upcoming weekend forecast.

“We’re hoping it’s not as bad as last weekend, but we’re going to be ready for whatever comes our way,” he said.

Picking up one of the broken power poles and getting the lines that had fallen into the reservoir out of the water late Monday afternoon. | Contributed

Fairfield County

WINNSBORO – During Tuesday night’s regular town council meeting, William Medlin, Director of Electrical Utilities for the Town of Winnsboro, gave an update on the effects of the severe weather conditions the Town experienced on Sunday and Monday.

“At some point we lost all 3,400 customers,” Medlin said.

A tree down on Mobley Road in White Oak. | Addie Walker

He said that after his linemen spent two 20-hour days repairing lines and power poles, only about 30-35 customers were still without power.

Medlin posted on his Facebook page in the early morning hours on Monday: “Our linemen worked late last night, some until 2 a.m. this morning to get power back on for the town’s residents.  They were up early again this morning and will be out there late again tonight. We expect everyone to have power very soon,”

Mayor John McMeekin praised the town’s crews.

“I can’t say enough about the dedication of our crews. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate their hard work,” he said. “They deserve all the accolades possible.”

Medlin and Town Manager Jason Taylor said there were delays in getting the power turned back on due to damage to the generators at the reservoir caused by the storm.

McMeekin told The Voice earlier Tuesday that trees downed by the ice storm fell into the reservoir and knocked out the generator.

“When the reservoir went down, we had to concentrate heavily on that, getting that caught back up so it wouldn’t cascade and then all of the water go down,” Taylor said. “That delayed us getting power back on because we had to drop everything to concentrate on the water to keep it from going down. “

During that time, water pressure dropped in some areas and others lost water altogether for a short time. A contractor was brought in from North Carolina.

Taylor said town officials tried to regularly get information out to the public on the status of power and water.

“We had public safety answering the phone,” Taylor said. “We had people phone banking, trying to take all the calls we could. We posted on Facebook, trying to get information out that way. We wanted residents to at least know what areas we were working on, what our priorities were and that we were doing everything we could to address the outages.”

Taylor said most of the Town’s Facebook posts were reaching 1,500 – 2,000 people.

Residents also took to Facebook to praise the town’s crews who were working into the night Monday and Tuesday to restore power and water.

On Tuesday Jamie Brown commented: “Let’s keep all the linemen and tree crews in our thoughts and give them a big thanks for all the work they have done today in this weather. I know from experience how rough it is doing that work on a normal day. Days like this are tougher.”

Donnie Richard Blackmon Laird commented, “We have no water. Do you know when it will be back on?”

Taylor answered, “We don’t either, but it should be back up in about 2 hours. We are having to pump several millions gallons [of water] back into the system where it drained down when we were without power.”

Taylor said the storm exposed some weaknesses in the town’s water system, specifically the lack of a backup generator for the reservoir.

“We do need backup generators. We need redundancy so when a generator goes out, we can get going again,” he said.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]