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Storm causes 200,000 people in South Carolina to lose power

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Ian has come ashore again. After causing catastrophic destruction in Florida, the storm regained some of its strength over the Atlantic Ocean. It made landfall this afternoon as a Category 1 hurricane in South Carolina. It hit near Georgetown, which is between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, with sustained winds of 85 miles an hour. The storm is now a post-tropical cyclone, but the storm surge and flooding is potentially life-threatening. And a federal disaster declaration is in effect in South Carolina. Over 200,000 people lost power in that state, and that includes South Carolina Public Radio's Victoria Hansen, who is in Charleston and joins us now. Hi, Victoria.

VICTORIA HANSEN, BYLINE: Hi there. Yes, I did, in fact, lose power. And it's getting dark as we speak.

SUMMERS: Well, I hope you are taking care of yourself. Can you tell us a little bit what it was like when that storm came through?

HANSEN: Yeah. You know, this afternoon got sunny, but that was certainly a change from earlier in the day. We have had plenty of rain. You know, we're talking to 8 inches near the coast where I live, and wind so strong at times that they blew some of my unripe oranges off the trees, hitting the windows. In downtown Charleston, streets flooded, cars got stuck. Tree limbs are down. Let's just say there's plenty of cleanup to do in the coming days. And I need to mention that downtown Charleston sees flooding on sunny days when there's a high tide. Today, we had both - a high tide and a storm surge. So flooding was a real problem.

SUMMERS: Now, the center of the storm made landfall in Georgetown. What can you tell me about that community?

HANSEN: Yeah, Georgetown is a riverfront community about an hour north of Charleston. It too sees flooding even without a hurricane. And nearby is a resort community called Pawleys Island. It's self-serve so strong that a pier collapsed today. North of that, in Myrtle Beach, the swells were so large, waves reportedly washed over the boardwalk and even up to the hotel doors. There were reports of some rescues because of all the flooding. Now, emergency officials are saying this storm could have been much, much, much worse. But they're saying, you know what? People still need to take caution. They still need to hunker down because there are still flooded roadways out there. And at least 200,000 people are still without power across the state.

SUMMERS: Now, when this storm swept through Florida, it ripped a path of destruction as it moved across the state. What is expected as the storm moves across your state?

HANSEN: Well, the storm is expected to turn north and northwest and lose strength throughout the night as it eventually makes its way into North Carolina and into Virginia, which, by the way, some 90,000 people - they are already without power just in North Carolina.

SUMMERS: In the about 45 seconds we have left, I know that you've been through a couple of hurricanes in South Carolina. So just for you personally, how does this compare?

HANSEN: You know, it's really strange. This seems to be the track that they have been taking lately. You know, they will eye Charleston, and then they will turn farther north. But, you know, you got to keep an eye on because just last week was the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which did, in fact, make landfall in Charleston. So you have to be aware. And a lot of folks I spoke with last night at the grocery store doing some last-minute shopping said they could not believe that we were going to get hit with a Category 1 hurricane because basically they were looking at Florida and that was that.

SUMMERS: That is South Carolina Public Radio's Victoria Hansen. Victoria, thank you.

HANSEN: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Victoria Hansen is our Lowcountry connection covering the Charleston community, a city she knows well. She grew up in newspaper newsrooms and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years. Her first reporting job brought her to Charleston where she covered local and national stories like the Susan Smith murder trial and the arrival of the Citadel’s first female cadet.