Weather News

Beaufort County ‘lucky’ in Hurricane Dorian with minimal damage, sheriff says

In one word, Beaufort County was “lucky” in Hurricane Dorian, Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said during a press conference Friday morning.

Just 6 miles off the coast of Fripp Island, the National Weather Service recorded wind speeds on a buoy topping at 92 mph — higher than what Beaufort County saw during Hurricane Matthew.

“Six miles is not a long way,” Tanner said. “That’s the distance that could have made a difference in how we could have been impacted by this storm. The buoy off Fripp gave us an indication that had it been 6 miles closer to our shoreline, the damage could have been worse, a lot worse, than Hurricane Matthew.”

On land, the highest wind recorded in Beaufort County was 67 mph at 1:35 a.m. Thursday at the Hilton Head Island Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

Overall, the county saw minor structural damage, with 22,000 residents losing power at peak hours and 6,000 of those residents still without power as of 11 a.m., mostly north of the Broad River, said Lt. Col. Neil Baxley, Beaufort County’s emergency management director.

Beaufort County Public Works crews began clearing storm debris from roads Thursday and will continue Friday, Beaufort County administrator Ashley Jacobs said.

Law enforcement, EMS, and fire officials answered a total of 7,612 calls for service between Sept. 5 and 6 during the peak hours of the storm, Baxley said. Emergency officials responded to 88 calls Thursday for downed trees across the county, many of those blocking roads. No injuries were reported in the storm.

All roads are open in Beaufort County, and the curfew has been canceled, Tanner said. Evacuation orders were lifted at 3 p.m. Thursday. The county was evacuated for a total of four days.

Asked why a curfew was set for the county Thursday evening, Tanner said law enforcement has a duty to secure Beaufort County in such situations, and having the curfew in place met the goal to keep the county safe. Only three residential burglaries and three vehicle break-ins were reported, Tanner said.

“We expected a worse storm,” Tanner said. “This has been one of the most unpredictable storms that I can remember.”

Back to normal

  • Beaufort Memorial, Hilton Head, and Coastal Carolina hospitals are now open.
  • Beaufort County schools will resume normal operations on Monday.
  • The Beaufort County Animal Shelter will re-open on Monday.
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