By Mindy Lucas
Many in the Lowcountry breathed a sigh of relief Thursday morning as Hurricane Dorian began to move out of the area and make its climb up the South Carolina coast leaving little damage in its wake compared to previous hurricanes.
The storm, which picked up strength overnight Wednesday becoming a Category 3 hurricane as it neared the Palmetto State, had many in the Lowcountry more than a little nervous about whether it would wobble or worse – make landfall somewhere in Beaufort County.
Fortunately, the storm continued to hug the coastline as predicted by earlier weather models, with an eye wall that stayed out at sea.
By early morning, outage maps for Beaufort County showed more than 20,000 residents were without power. However, by 3:15 p.m., that number had decreased to 10,895, according to Aimee Murray, a public affairs specialist with Dominion Energy. Of that number, about 4,000 alone were on St. Helena Island, Murray said.
While there were no fires in Beaufort, the City of Beaufort/ Town of Port Royal Fire Department responded to 21 storm-related calls for downed trees or similar incidents, said department chief Reece Bertholf.
However, in Burton, an early morning fire had fire crews with the Burton Fire District and Beaufort County Emergency Medical Services scrambling just as the hurricane’s outer bands were moving through the area.
The fire, at a house on Bonaire Circle in the Shell Point area, broke out around 4:30 a.m., said Captain Dan Byrne with the district.
Firefighters arriving on the scene found a single family home with flames coming through the roof. While the blaze was brought under control quickly, high winds kept reigniting embers and driving flames, Byrne said.
A man at the home was able to escape the fire and was uninjured, he said. The man has been displaced by the fire.
Firefighters remained on the scene for over two hours making sure the blaze was fully extinguished.
The department also responded to more than 13 storm related calls, involving trees and downed power lines, and were called to four medical emergencies involving people experiencing breathing difficulties and chest pains, Byrne said.
By midday Thursday, there was little evidence of any major flooding in the downtown Beaufort Historic District and a few people could be seen walking through Waterfront Park.
Most of the businesses along Bay Street appeared to have weathered the storm well and only one broken storm window from a second floor could be found along the sidewalk in front of Lowcountry Real Estate.
Hurricane Dorian follows Matthew in 2016, and Irma, in 2017, which caused considerable damage and flooding in the Lowcountry.
The Island News will continue to bring you updates as we learn more.