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Grayson packs a punch in Colleton County

County leaders are still dealing with the post-Grayson punch after the winter storm dumped snow and ice on coastal and inland Colleton County.

Grayson, which is being called “Snowgeddon” on social media sites, hit coastal South Carolina on January 2. The storm left 2-7 inches, on average, throughout the greater Lowcountry region. The storm particularly crippled Interstate 95, leaving motorists stranded in Colleton County. As a result, the county’s homeless shelter – Safe Haven Homeless Shelter in Walterboro – was opened as a warm location for stranded motorists. The county’s museum and Farmer’s Market were also turned into an evacuation destination for people who either crashed on I-95 or who couldn’t travel because of the poor road conditions.

Colleton County Middle School was then turned into a third shelter.

According to Barry McRoy, director of the county’s Fire-Rescue organization, the city’s hotels were all full of stranded motorists, which created the need for the other three locations.

About 16 people were lodged at CCMS, which used when the other two shelters were full.

An estimated 40 people lodged at the museum and farmer’s market.

On Wednesday, CCFR ran 57 calls during the day shift. “That is 2.5-times more than what we normally do,” said McRoy.

“Throughout the ordeal, we were very busy, but our volunteers and career staff worked hard to serve people,” he said. “We didn’t miss one call. And fortunately, we did not have any major fires that occurred during the storm.”

CCFR positioned one truck on I-95 throughout the storm. “It was one wreck after another,” said McRoy. “Some were cars sliding off of the interstate, and going into the woods. There was one 10-car pileup. Most of them didn’t have injuries … there were so many wrecks, the S.C. Highway Patrol could barely keep up. Sheriff Strickland did a great job of putting people on the interstate to help,” said McRoy.

Fire-Rescue personnel and other county leaders helped stranded motorists to find rental cars. McRoy says they even drove stranded motorists to Charleston to help them find a rental car.

“That’s the beauty of a small town,” said McRoy. “We can all help people out and everybody pulled together. Disasters usually bring out the best in people. A lot of good people were helping.”

According to Lt. Tyger Benton, spokesman for the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, the storm resulted in hundreds more emergency calls.

“The sheriff’s office worked an A and B shift, which brought in off-duty personnel allowing for maximum law enforcement personnel to cover the needs of the public during Winter Storm Grayson,” said Benton.

“We experienced multiple vehicular accidents on Interstate 95 and other roads located throughout the county,” he said. “We also experienced drivers being stranded and helped them to find lodging at the Farmers Market, Homeless shelter, and the Colleton County Middle School. The roadways remain very hazardous.”

The sheriff’s office and other county agencies used social media throughout last week’s storm, urging residents to avoid driving. Impacts from the storm – icy road conditions – lasted throughout the weekend.

“This snow storm could have been much more dangerous if not for them adhering to the warnings and staying off the roadways,” said R. Andy Strickland, sheriff of Colleton County. “Our citizens helped to make a bad situation a little better for the emergency responders,” said Strickland.

The Walterboro Police Department (WPD) and its officers were also in the midst of traffic control and routine residential needs. According to Cpl. Amye Stivender, spokeswoman for the police department, the WPD experienced an increased number of calls for help, in regards to traffic problems, motor vehicle accidents and general needs for help.

“Although snow is pretty to look at, it can be challenging to drive in,” said Stivender. “With the closing of I-95 and several other roads, traffic through the City of Walterboro increased as the weather began to get worse,” she said. “Our officers worked a high volume of motor vehicle accidents, most of which were only minor damage thankfully.

“During the height of the storm, our entire administration was on the road helping our patrol division monitor traffic and assist with vehicle accidents,” said Stivender, who also added that the department is grateful for those residents who decided to stay off of the city’s roadways.

“We are thankful for those who heeded our advice and stayed off the roadways,” she said. “We are continuing to monitor several roads which still have patches of ice … so we are still encouraging individuals to limit their traveling if possible,” she said, on Monday.

Heather Walters (1415 Posts)