Driving became a hazard throughout The T&D Region on Saturday as Hurricane Matthew caused trees to fall throughout the day.

“It’s worse than the flood. There are wires down everywhere and trees down everywhere,” Calhoun County Emergency Services Director Bill Minikiewicz said.

The damage was widespread, from a roof ripped off a Bamberg convenience store to flooding in the Holy Hill area. In Orangeburg, a large tree fell in front of the First Baptist Church downtown.

Throughout the day, officials warned residents to stay in their homes to avoid fallen trees and power lines.

T&D Region emergency officials said they knew of no injuries or fatalities.

Orangeburg County Emergency Services Director Billy Staley said the biggest problem was widespread downed trees and power lines, with most of the damage occurring mid-Saturday morning when wind gusts reached into the 60-mph range.

"Stay off the roads and don't go out if you don't need to go out," Staley said. "We have a lot of people moving around and walking around power lines that may be hot.”

The flooding in Holly Hill was significant, he said.

"It is pretty much anywhere downtown," he said, noting there were no water rescues or rescues from homes.

"We are getting multiple reports of trees on houses across the county," Staley said

The public is encouraged to visit the county's website to report damage at www.orangeburgcounty.org.

In the Providence community, Fire Chief Carl Thompson reported midday Saturday that trees were down all along Old State Road. Residents were without power after the storm.

Eutawville Fire Chief Stephen Shuler reported downed trees and areas of spot flooding in the area.

“There’s water right down at the intersection of Dawson and Porcher,” he said. “We’re trying to encourage drivers not to go through the water – find an alternate route if possible.”

Power outages were widespread. A resident had to come down to the fire station to have the batteries for his heart pump charged.

Shuler warned that trees could continue to fall through the night.

“We encourage people to stay home as much as possible,” he said.

In Calhoun County, trees blocked several roads, including Highway 6, Minikiewicz said.

Good Hope Road washed out near McCords Ferry Road, just as it did during last October’s floods.

“We know it’s a big event and it’s not done,” Minikiewicz said.

Bamberg County had similar problems with heavy winds knocking down trees and power lines.

An oak tree was uprooted and fell into a home in Olar, Bamberg County Emergency Services Public Information Officer Mallory Biering said. The resident is fine.

In addition, a gust of wind blew the roof off the Three-Way convenience store, she said.

The following Bamberg County roads are closed due to washouts or are impassable due to other reasons: Turkey Cut, Road, Sash Lane, Howell's Mill Road between Goodland and Farrell's Road and Hickory Hill Road.

Bamberg County residents with damaged buildings are asked to call 803-245-4313 extension 3 to leave a voicemail or email damage@bambergcounty.sc.gov. The county is providing information on Facebook as well.

Contact the writer: gcrider@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5570.

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Managing Editor

Gene Crider is an Orangeburg native. He has been reporting since 1992. Please contact him with story ideas at gcrider@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5570.

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