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Elsa hits Port Royal hard

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Possible tornado associated with storm causes a lot of damage

By Mike McCombs

As Tropical Storm Elsa made its way up the South Carolina coast late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, northern Beaufort County was hammered high winds and heavy rains.

But the Town of Port Royal got the worst of the deal, suffering major damage as a result of “an unusual weather event that came through” with the storm, according to Mayor Joe DeVito.

“We’re uncertain right now whether it was a tornado or a micro burst or some sort of a straight wind event,” DeVito said. “But we have a lot of damage on Paris Avenue. All the power is out on Paris Avenue. The one thing we can tell you is that there are no injuries, and that is what we would all hope for.”

The National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning just after midnight. Tornado or not, the high winds took down trees across roadways, onto homes and on power lines. Boats in drydock were blown off their stands. And some smaller structures were knocked down.

Madison’s, a popular Port Royal restaurant, had a large oak tree resting on its back porch Thursday. Paris Avenue, the main thoroughfare in Port Royal, was blocked off, and damage on several side streets was bad.

“We have had some families displaced during the night due to the amount of damage here,” DeVito said. “Dominon (Energy) crews are on site looking at the power issue, but I can tell you that power will not be restored to the downtown area until very late this evening as they have to rebuild the grid in this area. We need people to please do your best to try and stay away from the downtown area.”

The City of Beaufort/Town of Port Royal Fire Department reminded people “please do not drive through standing water and do not drive over or touch any power lines. Please drive carefully and expect delays around the area.”

Early Thursday, part of Pigeon Point Road and portions of Savannah Highway were blocked, as well, but by late afternoon, downtown Port Royal remained the epicenter of damage with Dominion Energy and municipal crews still on the scene working.

Related note

The Beaufort County District announced that due to numerous power outages and road closures resulting from Tropical Storm Elsa, all district facilities are closed, and summer school programming was canceled, for Thursday. The district was to resume all normal operations Friday, July 9.

Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.

Cutline: Clean-up efforts continued Thursday afternoon after Tropical Storm Elsa did serious damage, downing trees and power lines, along Paris Ave. in Port Royal early Thursday morning. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

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