Storm pic for web

Jennifer Chapman, owner of Sulit Luxe Affairs on Broughton Street, says the building suffered interior water damage after a large portion of the roof was blown off by Tropical Storm Michael.

Emergency officials were breathing a collective sigh of relief Thursday as the region was spared Tropical Storm Michael's full wrath.

"The weather could not have been much better than it was. It didn’t last that long," Calhoun County Director of Emergency Management David Chojnacki said Thursday.

"Fortunately, it seems like residents in the county have come through without too many major damages. I think we did fairly well,” he said.

Tropical Storm Michael knocked down trees and power lines. It also tore the roof off of a mobile home in Cope.

There were several accidents during the storm in Orangeburg County, with vehicles hitting trees that fell into roadways, Orangeburg County Emergency Services Director Billy Staley said.

It is estimated about 30 trees were down throughout the county.

Bamberg County Public Information Officer Mary Tilton said there were no injuries or fatalities reported from the storm.

"I think we fared pretty well," Tilton said. "I think we are lucky."

The biggest issue was downed trees and power lines on roads. There were no reports of property damage.

"We had about 18 trees down as of noon (Thursday). There is debris in the roadways,” she said.

Hurricane Michael intensified right up to its landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday as a high-end Category 4 storm. It dropped down to a tropical storm by the time it reached The T&D Region.

Gusty winds

The top wind gust recorded at the Orangeburg Municipal Airport was 45 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

The Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities recorded a maximum wind gust of 57 mph at its North Road substation between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. Thursday.

Orangeburg County recorded peak sustained winds of 31 mph around 7:30 a.m.

The rubber asphalt roof of Sulit Luxe Affairs on Broughton Street was torn off by the wind.

Sulit owner Jennifer Chapman said she was informed of the roof damage by a customer who drove by and took a video of it.

"We immediately jumped in the car and came down here to see the damage," Chapman said. "I was very surprised. We did a lot of work on it. We just renovated it this past year."

"We have leakage on the inside," Chapman said. "It (wind) just ripped the whole thing off."

In addition to the roof, the front window and the building's air vent were also damaged by the wind.

Despite the setback, Chapman said she is determined to rebuild.

"We are planning to get everything up and running," she said.

Orangeburg County's two shelters -- at the Orangeburg City Gym and Lake Marion High School -- housed a total of 21 individuals. The shelters closed Thursday afternoon.

Possible tornado?

The first outer bands from Tropical Storm Michael began to be felt in the T&D Region around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday when Doppler radar indicated a possible tornado near Branchville.

The National Weather Service could not confirm there were any tornadoes.

County emergency officials plan to go out and examine the area Friday.

A separate tornado warning extended over northern Orangeburg County and Calhoun County.

Rain not much of an issue

Orangeburg’s Department of Public Utilities recorded just over 4 inches of rain at its Russell Street headquarters.

According to weather rain gauge observers, a gauge about 5 miles northeast of North recorded 3.51 inches of rain while a gauge about 4 miles northeast of Cope recorded 3.4 inches of rain.

Closer to Orangeburg, two rain gauges recorded about 2 inches of rain.

Further south in Bamberg County, about 1.79 inches of rain were recorded in Denmark and 1.25 inches were recorded in Ehrhardt.

In Calhoun County, a weather observer recorded 3.51 inches.

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Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.


Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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