Tropical Storm Hermine struck the Lowcountry a wet but glancing blow Friday, leaving hundreds of trees down and thousands of residents without power.
At least three families in Beaufort County were displaced from their homes due to damage from the storm, including two families on Hilton Head, Beaufort County Emergency Management Director Lt. Col. Neil Baxley said. The families were placed in temporary housing by the Red Cross.
“They’ll be out of their houses for a while,” said Baxley.
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And Hermine left thousands of residents in the dark, as powerlines went down across the Lowcountry. More than 15,000 customers were without power in Beaufort County alone at the height of the storm, power companies reported.
There were still more than 5,600 outages for SCE&G customers in Beaufort County as of Friday evening, including more than 1,000 in Bluffton.
As of 4:30 p.m. on Friday, however, nearly all Palmetto Electric customers in Beaufort County and most islanders had regained power.
The blackouts had included the entire southern tip of Hilton Head Island, including Sea Pines Resort, said Tray Hunter, Palmetto Electric vice president.
The storm caused more than 100 downed trees in the county, according to Baxley. Debris from fallen branches and were strewn across the streets of Hilton Head and Bluffton throughout the afternoon Friday.
There were no injuries or fatalities related to the storm reported anywhere in Beaufort County, Baxley said.
Hermine brought at least 3 to 4.5 inches of rainfall to the Hilton Head and Bluffton area, according to the National Weather Service. At the height of the storm’s power, the Hilton Head Airport measured wind gusts at 55 miles per hour.
Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue teams responded to a total of 37 calls for storm damage before 4 p.m. Friday including: 24 trees blocking roadways, five trees on homes, three trees fallen on vehicles, four trees that downed power lines and one elevator rescue, the department reported Friday evening.
Large trees were reported down near Folly Field, Arrow and Muddy Creek roads that had to be cleared, among other areas on the island.
In Bluffton, there were more than 40 calls to the Bluffton Township Fire District related to storm damage, according to Capt. Randy Hunter. A total accounting of the damage was not available by press time on Friday.
On the beaches of Hilton Head, all swimmers were kept out of the ocean’s unusually choppy waves Friday due to to risks of rip currents, said Mike Wagner of Hilton Head Island's Shore Beach Service.
The beaches saw strong winds that often made it difficult to walk and stung beachgoers’ faces with sand most of the day Friday.
Still, beach strollers and dog-walkers braved the wind and misting rain to take pictures and see the waves brought on by the storm.
There appeared to be some beach erosion caused by Hermine on Hilton Head, Wagner said, but it was less than officials anticipated.
Hermine first made landfall in Florida on Thursday night. It was the first tropical system to make landfall in the state as a hurricane in 10 years, according to the National Weather Service. It was subsequently downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved over land into Georgia and South Carolina Friday morning and afternoon.
Tropical storm warnings are set to continue until 2 p.m. Saturday in Beaufort County, though conditions were expected to significantly improve through Friday night with just the possibility of some continued showers, according to the National Weather Service.
As of 6 p.m. Friday, both the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and the Town of Hilton Head’s emergency management operations had concluded.
Tropical storm conditions possible. A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 8 p.m. Cloudy, then gradually becoming partly cloudy, with a low around 69. West wind 33 to 38 mph decreasing to 18 to 23 mph. Winds could gust as high as 49 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 85. Northwest wind 6 to 13 mph.
A slight chance of showers after 3 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 73. Light and variable wind. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.
A slight chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 9 a.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 85. Northeast wind 6 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.
A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9 p.m. Mostly clear, with a low around 72. East wind 5 to 7 mph becoming calm after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.
Sunny, with a high near 87.
Mostly clear, with a low around 74.
Source: National Weather Service