Storm victims make progress on repairs

PETTICOAT JUNCTION --- The buzz of chain saws is being replaced with the thud of hammers.

Petticoat Junction, one of the areas hit hardest by an April 10 storm that spawned several tornadoes and caused millions in damage, is slowly but surely seeing repairs, with some new rooftops being added to the area's landscape.

Five weeks after the storm that caused more than $3 million in damage to the area, several homes -- some still draped in blue tarps -- are either getting roofing repairs or are in line for work.

Several of the new rooftops are the work of Robert Miller, who owns Miller's Building and lives nearby in Beech Island. Mr. Miller, whose home was also damaged in the storm, said Wednesday that work is progressing as the weather allows.

"It's the weather that keeps us slow," he said, standing under a blazing sun while on the roof of a home under repair. "I just don't want the rain to come."

He estimates that it will be at least four more months before things are back to normal.

Mr. Miller said the past five weeks have gone by fast, and although some might have moved on since the April 10 storm, "If you're involved in it, you don't forget."

Moses McCreary, a roofer originally from Charleston, said it has been a while since he last saw such devastation.

"A long time ago -- Hugo," he said of the major hurricane that wreaked havoc in 1989, particularly on Charleston.

Still, the signs of rebuilding in Petticoat give Mr. McCreary hope, he said. One of those signs -- an empty "clean-up kit" box -- was found Wednesday at a destroyed Silver Bluff Volunteer Fire Department headquarters station.

Much of the debris has now been cleaned up and officials hope to have a temporary shelter established there.

In Augusta, which had about $1.4 million in damage, blue tarps can still be found on houses in the Bungalow Road area. Officials, though, say work is progressing.

"The last I heard they were doing really well, that the communities were really strong and they were helping each other," said Sharon Bennett, of Richmond County EMA.

Ms. Bennett said most of the loose debris has been cleared and she's seen some roofing repairs started.

As for the Petticoat and Beech Island areas, officials say some tree cleanup is still needed, and the South Carolina Department of Transportation plans to continue removing vegetative storm debris in that area until May 29.

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

FREE TREE GIVEAWAY FOR TORNADO VICTIMS

WHEN: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday

WHERE: Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site, 181 Redcliffe Road, Beech Island

WHAT: Moore Farms, Nurseries Caroliniana, Carolina Nurseries and Grandiflora Grown will distribute trees to people affected by the April tornado in Beech Island and New Ellenton

CONTACT: (803) 827-1473