Originally created 08/19/00

Storm leaves damage in its wake



Pea-size hail, ripping winds, lightning bolts and what may have been tornadoes were all part of Augusta's share of a storm system stretching from North Carolina to Macon on Friday.

The thunderstorm blew through Savannah River Site and the town of Jackson just before 6 p.m., said Westinghouse Savannah River Co. spokesman Will Callicott.

The storm downed power lines and trees, overturned an office trailer and damaged several administrative buildings along the northern boundary of SRS, Mr. Callicott said. Some vehicles also were damaged, and high winds tripped several fire alarms.

Dispatchers reported wind gusts up to 60 mph and near-zero visibility during the storm, which lasted about 10 minutes. No injuries were reported.

"We're very fortunate that this happened at the time of day it did, especially on a Friday," Mr. Callicott said.

Site crews and the South Carolina Forestry Service cleared the debris, removing many trees from power lines.

In Richmond and Columbia counties, winds left paths of toppled trees and downed power lines. Fallen debris blocked traffic at the intersection of Tubman Home Road and Gordon Highway. Live wires fell on homes. Thick hail fell in the Oakley Pirkle Road area for about three minutes at about 6 p.m.

Georgia Power Co. spokesman John Sell said about 2,000 customers between Augusta and Martinez were without power after the storm. Crews were expected to work until midnight restoring service, he said.

Surrounding residents were upset after a fire erupted at Parrish Quality Signs at 1907 Lumpkin Road just before 8 p.m. Business owner Robby Parrish said a Georgia Power worker had inspected a nearby transformer hit by lightning earlier in the evening and promised to return.

Meanwhile, appliances in the little building buzzed and rattled, he said. Lights blinked and flickered, and next thing he knew, smoke was pouring from an air duct.

Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department was able to save the building, but Mr. Parrish said he did not have insurance on its contents.

"They should have pulled the meter from the side of the building," Mr. Parrish said. "I'm not a power man, but I know that the house would have been nonelectrified then.

"I'm totally out of business now."

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or Katie Throne at (803) 279-6895.