Columbia County officials check on a tree that fell on power lines on La Vista Drive as the remnants of Hurricane Frances blew through the area.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Evans businessman Pete Alewine estimates he lost at least $10,000, all because of a storm named Frances.
Being in the pool business, he said a typical storm would cost him about $5,000 because of lost time from rain and work that has to be redone because of water damage to pools. On Monday and Tuesday, though, he said the remnants of Hurricane Frances hit his business even harder, causing at least one hole that had been dug for a pool to collapse.
"Rain is not my friend,'' he said. "Every time it rains, it's a big loser to me. And when you get rain like that (from Hurricane Frances), it's a double whammy.''
Alewine wasn't the only one to feel the wrath from what remained of Frances in Columbia County, though, as nearly 6 inches of rain and winds topping 25 mph caused delays for construction companies and a close call for one church group at Thurmond Lake.
"It just really boils down to the fact that it costs us money every time we have a rain like this," said John Allen, co-owner of Allen-Batchelor Construction in Evans, adding that the storm slowed his company's projects down at least a few days.
On Monday, the storm brought high winds, causing a boat carrying eight members of New Life Christian Center of Augusta to fill with water and sink. One teenage girl was taken to University Hospital for exhaustion and light-headedness after trying to swim to land.
The storm was blamed on the death of Martinez resident Robin J. Williams, 50, who was killed Tuesday in a wreck on Interstate 20 in Aiken County after her vehicle hydroplaned.
Overall, though, county officials said the storm didn't cause any major flooding in the county and didn't damage any ongoing road projects.
"Our storm water projects are helping,'' said Pam Tucker, the county's emergency services director. "In the past, we would have had flooding.''
Tucker said the storm also helped her department establish new contacts that would be needed in cases of evacuations.
"We had contacts made to us offering all kinds of things that we can maintain in our resources database,'' she said, adding that many people and businesses called to offer assistance. "When something like this happens, it makes you feel really good when everything comes together.''
Tucker estimated that at least a few thousand evacuees were in the county from Florida as a result of Hurricane Frances, but she said possible sites for shelters were never needed.
Still, she said, her department remains in a ready state for another storm, Ivan, which had been projected to threaten the Florida coastline only a week after Frances and a few weeks after Hurricane Charley.
"Everything is still in place,'' she said.
"We're not demobilizing as far as the shelters that would stay open.''
Tucker said that, in light of the past few hurricanes, there is an even greater need for donations for a drive to help victims in Florida. The donation drive, which is asking people to donate items such as new towels, mouthwash and first aid items, has been extended until 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Until then, the donations can be made at Wesley United Methodist Church.
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