Severe thunderstorm downs trees and powerlines thoughout Anderson County

By Stan Welch
David Baker, Anderson County Director of Emergency Management was clearly tired by the hectic events of recent weeks; events magnified by this weekend’s powerful storms. But he was clearly proud of and satisfied with the performance of his people, both in response to the ongoing coronavirus situation and their performance during and after the storms.
“Overall, we had 125 trees down in roadways that required some level of response to reopen those roads. The public works department did a great job on that.  The city of Anderson and the Pendleton area seemed to have the most trees down; and Pendleton appeared to suffer the heaviest damage to real property. That’s in Anderson County, of course. Our neighbors, Oconee and Pickens counties fared much worse than we did.”
Baker said he had two crews working by early Monday morning. One crew was assessing the damage in Anderson county, while a second crew flew drones over the Clemson and Seneca areas, helping to assess damage and locate missing persons in areas rendered inaccessible to normal egress.
The drones were recently obtained by the county for just such uses. More easily dispatched and cheaper to operate, the drones have already paid off, according to Baker. “They had paid off before we ever put them in the air,” said Baker, referring to the sale of one of the two helicopters the county had, as well as the fact that one of the drones was obtained through a grant.
Previously, drones, fitted with forward looking infrared (FLIR) capability, were used at a large tire fire in Abbeville to locate hotspots invisible to the naked eye.
Baker and his staff have had a very busy year so far. Earlier this year heavy rains caused flooding. Then came the coronavirus outbreak, and this weekend, the storms, which killed one in Oconee County, and injured several others. “I can’t remember when we’ve ever had three projects underway at once. We are assessing all the data to determine if we reach the federal threshold to qualify for some reimbursement on the costs of these various disasters.”
Baker also boasted about the performance of the telecommunications and first responder personnel. “This week is designated nationally to recognize those folks, and their work so far this year certainly makes them deserving.”
Photo above – A power line fell on a house on Toney Creek Road, Belton during the storm early Monday morning. The area was taped off and homeowners trapped inside while waiting for workers to repair the downed line. (Photo by Michael Lollis)
(See more local storm damage photos in this week print or online edition of The Journal)