Aiken, S.C. -
In response to the devastation Winter Storm PAX left behind in the City of Aiken, government leaders declared a State of Emergency, passed a resolution to note emergency expenditures in the budget and found more space to toss storm debris.
City Council members heard from the four major departments that worked around the clock before, during and after the devastating ice storm that hit this area.Armed with dates, numbers and services rendered, the council made the necessary steps to get federal aid.
“The first emergency response that we as public safety responded to was a structure fire in The Reserve [Club] at Woodside.We found a small fire inside the wall,” said Public Safety Director Charles Barranco.
Joining the head of Public Safety in the presentation to council members was the Public Services Director, Parks, Recreation and Tourism and Engineering and Utilities Department heads.Public Services Director Tim Coakley told board members that after assessing damages with SCE&G, they determined Winter Storm PAX was twice as bad as the 2004 storm.
Coakley said, “That was 100,000 cubic yards back in 2004 and it's about a million dollar request to FEMA and they refunded us 756 thousand [dollars] back in ‘04.
In addition to fires, the Public Safety office fielded more than 50 thousand storm and earthquake related calls.Additional staff members were called to work in nearly every department.City Manager Richard Pearce said more than 50 licenses have been granted to help clean debris.
“We will not have a state of emergency or disaster declared until the president signs off on that.We're encouraged that will happen in the next few weeks,” said Pearce.
Many of the neighborhood parks took a big hit during the storm, but the director said Smith Hazel still served as a warming shelter for around 80 people at the height of the storm.
The city council is still working with FEMA, who was just in town last Friday assessing damages.