Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Last week's winter chill affected the community in many ways. In the wake of the National Weather Service issuing special alerts for the region, Williamsburg County District schools were placed on a two-and-a-half hour delay, the January 6, Williamsburg County Council meeting was canceled and emergency personnel were placed on high alert. As the temperatures dropped into the teens our county, citizens and industry stepped up to help. Williamsburg County E-911 Emergency Management opened a shelter at the Williamsburg County Recreation Department. Emergency management moved their facility to a building located behind the recreation center a year ago. Families who needed shelter were provided sleeping arrangements, food and personal hygiene kits. "Our major concern was the wind-chill factor," said Williamsburg County Disaster Preparedness Director Tiffany Cooks. "We want to make sure we are there if anyone needs us." The Red Cross assisted in the effort as well by providing sleeping cots, blankets and snacks. The Felician Sisters of St. Ann Catholic Outreach Center of Kingstree provided free scarves, hats, pants, sweaters and jackets all day until dusk. Santee Electric Cooperative provided assistance but in a different way. When temperatures fall below freezing, SEC suspends all cut offs. SEC also offers a Special Needs Account Member Certification that allows those accounts to be handled accordingly. Customer service makes payment arrangements as necessary. "As a cooperative, care for the communities in which we serve and live is one of our seven guiding principles, so we also go a little further," said Manager of Community Relations Adrel S. Langley. "Not only do we make arrangements when people can’t pay their bills, we have literature and free home audits to help our members learn how to reduce their electric usage." During extreme cold, homeowners need to use caution when using auxiliary heating units. If using a space heater, keep it in the open away from clothing, paper, or rugs. Very cold temperatures can also affect vehicles by causing tire pressure to drop and possibly drain the battery. The average temperature for January is 57 degrees with an average low of 43 degrees; a huge difference to Monday's high that barely made the freezing mark. The good news is winter slowly gave way to increasing temperatures and by the weekend 73 degrees was a welcome diversion.