FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Widespread power outages are slowing down the Pee Dee.
The area was hit so hard the president of the electric company that serves the majority of customers in Florence toured the damage on Tuesday. Hopes are to have made major progress by Sunday.
"The difference with this storm is that this was a big water event," said Clark Gillespy, South Carolina president for Duke Energy. "We are having to wait for the waters to recede so that we can get back into some of our substations and handle the problems. Without equipment we are asking for everyone to be patient. Water doesn't typically recede in an hour or two; sometimes it takes a couple of days."
Company officials told a lot of people their power would not return until Sunday, but called that a worst-case scenario, saying it may come on before that.
The Florence Civic Center is now the spot where 2,000 linemen sleep, eat and shower
"We have cots set up where the ice would have been, and throughout the building for them to come in and rest," said Kendall Wall, general manager of the Florence Civic Center.
For the next few days, Duke Energy will use the space as its headquarters – working hard to try and get power back on before early next week.
Within days, concerts and the upcoming Disney on Ice were canceled and the arena transformed into Duke's headquarters.
"What we wanted to do is put a benchmark out there that in the worst case it could be Sunday," Gillespy said. "Our anticipation and our expectation is that everyone will be restored within that parameter."
And while everyone waits for life to get back to normal, some are trying to help make the hard times a little easier.
On Tuesday, Harris Teeter was one of many handing out free water.
"There is so many people without electricity who are on wells and pumps," said company representative Harris Bone. "We have heard so much about that, so we decided to call corporate and see if they could help us out with water and now we are just giving out water to the community."