Life without electricity? Think kindness and camping

Simply getting home again doesn’t mean the you’re through the worst of the Huricane Matthew evacuation saga.

You may arrive to an dark house an a warming refrigerator after downed trees and wind snapped the power lines.

Here’s some advice on how to survive life without electricity, now and should another hurricane strikes:

▪  Evacuate when you are told to evacuate. People who stayed behind found themselves Saturday morning with no power in perhaps damaged homes, with flooded yards and impassable streets. Yet as the winds died down, many were calling power companies asking when service would be restored.

▪  Use generators the way you are supposed to, and always run them outside. Run extension cords to primary appliances, but do not plug it into the house system.

▪  Think “camping.” Life is rustic. Neighbors must pool resources, sharing ice, food and cooking sources. Past hurricanes have produced “freezer parties” when neighbors unite for meals from whatever was in their freezers.

▪  Evacuees should return home prepared to be self-sufficient for several days. Bring your water, medicines, flashlights, non-perishable foods.

▪  Don’t turn on stove burners to check for power. They can be left on, and that can be a problem when power is restored.

▪  Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed.

▪  Turn off breakers and unplug televisions and other large appliances until power is restored. Keep a single light on so you’ll know when the power is restored.

▪  Stay away from fallen power lines and avoid tree limbs and debris that can hide the lines.

▪  If you are re-powering electronic devices with a power inverter plugged into a vehicle cigarette lighter, run the vehicle some of the time to prevent draining the car battery.

Outage figures

The two power companies serving Beaufort County are to move today from Hurricane Matthew damage assessment to full-scale restoration of power to tens of thousands of customers.

Neither could say when power will be fully restored.

Here is the status as of 4:15 p.m. Sunday:

Palmetto Electric Cooperative: 37,488 members are without power: Beaufort County (31,829); Hampton County (2,009); Jasper County (3,609).

The following areas on Hilton Head had power: Golden Bear, Beach City Road, Spanish Wells, Windmill Harbour and the Hilton Head Hospital.

The day started with 45,000 co-op members without power from Hampton to Hilton Head Island. The storm knocked out power to 85 percent of its three-county system, or 61,00 members. On Saturday, service was restored to Hilton Head Hospital and the island fire stations, said spokesman Tray Hunter.

On Monday, 140 additional crew members will be working alongside Palmettto Electric crews.

The Palmetto Electric Facebook page reported this update Sunday afternoon:

“There are power lines and poles down, limbs and/or trees leaning on lines, pededal transformers damaged or under water, substations out, transmission lines down. We understand this entire situation is very frustrating for everyone. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work as quickly and safely as possible to get power restored to every member,” said the co-ops

The primary lines to Hilton Head fared fairly well, Hunter said.

South Carolina Electric & Gas: Started the day with 47,000 customers without power in Beaufort County and 6,681 in Jasper County. Current numbers are 42,100 in Beaufort County and 5,447 in Jasper.

An outage map on the SCE&G website ( gives current numbers by county.

Systemwide, SCE&G faces power restoration to 240,000 customers. The storm knocked out service to 40 percent of its 706,000 customers systemwide.

SCE&G serves northern Beaufort County, and Old Town Bluffton and Daufuskie Island in the southern part of the county.

Close to 1,000 crew members from other systems are to join 3,000 SCE&G employees in a job that will require patience from customers, spokesman Eric Boomhower said Saturday night.

“This is the biggest weather event we’ve dealt with since Hurricane Hugo in 1989,” he said. “We have done damage assessment Saturday afternoon and evening and it will continue Sunday.

“We’re still trying to get our arms around the extent of the damage to the system, what the biggest problems are, and then get people into those areas.

“It will take time and we ask our customers for their patience.”

David Lauderdale: 843-706-8115, @ThatsLauderdale


Number of Palmetto Electric Cooperative members without power Sunday morning.


Number of SCE&G customers in Beaufort County without power Sunday morning.

Safe Generator Operation

  • Never connect a standby generator into your home’s electrical system.
  • Set up and run your generator in a well-ventilated area outside the home. Make sure it is away from your garage, doors, windows and vents. The carbon monoxide generated is deadly.
  • Use a heavy-duty extension cord to connect electric appliances to the outlet on the generator.
  • Start the generator before connecting appliances.


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