Before Hurricane Matthew hit the Myrtle Beach area on Saturday Oct. 8, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley mandated that all schools close in Horry County on Wednesday before the storm.
With school out Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and then the following week, eight days of school were lost. When it was determined that two schools would still be without power when school was finally back in session, the decision was made to use generator power to reopen the affected schools, says Dennis McCrary, project management coordinator for Horry County School District in Conway, S.C.
“So I made a phone call in the afternoon to Blanchard Power Systems at quarter to four, and by sundown the following day they had all three generators we required and all of our hookup cables and everything was in place where it needed to be,” McCrary says. “Our staff came in on Saturday morning, and by 10 a.m. they were all running.”
Three rental generators helped power Green Sea Floyds elementary and high schools. A Blanchard rental power representative helped McCrary determine the size of generators he needed, as well as the proper cabling.
“They provided us with everything we needed,” McCrary says. “Our in-house electricians connected everything, and the power company came out and inspected it and disconnected us from the grid. Then the Cat® service technician arrived and started everything up. It couldn’t have gone any better.”
As the largest county east of the Mississippi with 45,000 students and 55 schools, the Horry County School District serves as a Red Cross emergency shelter at several school locations. Based on the experience with Hurricane Matthew, the district is applying for a grant to install automatic transfer switches at several of the schools designated as shelters, which will make connecting a mobile generator even simpler.
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