At 3:14 a.m. Saturday morning, as Hurricane Matthew was battering Beaufort County, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island lost power.
Because of a boat.
A sailboat had become unmoored and drifted down a waterway toward the depot’s causeway and the Archer’s Creek Bridge.
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Its mast kept striking a power line to Parris Island, according to to Col. Jim Stone, the depot’s officer in charge of logistics and installations.
So to be on the safe side, SCE&G killed the power, he said.
Stone rode out the storm in the old fire station on Panama Street, where the storm surge filled the bottom of the building with a foot or two of water.
Despite the flooding and stands of snapped trees, the depot survived. So did its on-base homes.
Two other installations in northern Beaufort County — Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and the housing at Laurel Bay Community — emerged relatively unscathed, too. An attempt late Tuesday afternoon to contact a Naval Hospital Beaufort public-affairs official for a damage assessment was unsuccessful. However, the hospital planned to resume normal operations Wednesday, according to a news release Monday.
On Tuesday, the county’s other military bases were beginning to resume operations after the Category 2 storm.
The hurricane left standing water on the air station runway, but it was gone by Tuesday, when the first jets returned. There was no significant to damage to hangars or other nearby buildings.
Busloads of recruits passed through Parris Island’s gates after an evacuation of more than 6,000 trainees, according to depot spokesman Capt. Greg Carroll.
Residents, contract workers and Marines helped picked up debris around Parris Island’s homes and at Laurel Bay. No homes were destroyed at either location.
About a third of Laurel Bay had power at midday Tuesday, according to air station spokesperson Capt. Clayton Groover, who said the goal was to have electricity fully restored by the end of the day. Laurel Bay’s schools could open sometime this week, when power is restored and the cafeterias are up and running.
About 95 percent of Parris Island has power, according to Cmdr. Paul Magoulick, the officer who oversees facilities maintenance. Two of the depot’s five chow halls are operational, and the others are expected to open Wednesday.
Recruits were evacuated to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in Georgia. They were to return Wednesday, when normal operations resume at the depot.
They will return to find some damage, such as toppled trees around Page Field. A portion of The Crucible — the 54-hour training exercise that is recruits’ final test — is performed there. Despite the damage, the next iteration will begin Thursday, Carroll said.
And a class of recruits will still graduate Friday.
Elsewhere on Parris Island, a tree rested atop a monument. A small tow trailer had been deposited on a truck. And stripes of downed trees — which Stone guessed are signs of tornadoes — can be seen in several locations.
In the wake of the storm, cleanup crews, many of them volunteers who chose to stay behind, made strange discoveries.
Such as a dumpster Stone said had been moved a quarter mile.
And concrete blocks from nearby docks that floated onto the depot’s causeway.
And that sailboat near Archer’s Creek Bridge. After the storm, the boat was moored near the causeway. Its mast — the one that kept hitting the depot’s power line — was taken down.
The boat that messed with Parris Island’s electricity sat near the bank Tuesday.
On its life ring, the vessel’s name.
VA clinic back to regular schedule
The Beaufort Veterans Administration outpatient clinic will resume normal operations on Wednesday, according to a news release. Employees should report to work as scheduled. Patients with appointments should come to the clinic at their scheduled time.
Patients whose appointment was canceled due to clinic closures will be called to reschedule. If you cannot wait to reschedule, call the TAP line at 1-888-878-6884.
Employees and veteran patients can stay up-to-date with the most recent medical center and outpatient clinic statuses at the Charleston VAMC website, www.charleston.va.gov, on the medical center Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VAMCCharleston, or on Twitter at @CharlestonVAMC.