- Associated Press - Saturday, October 15, 2016

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - Family and friends across Orangeburg are working together to clean the mess left after Hurricane Matthew pushed its way through the city.

“This was my first time being through something like this and having trees fall,” Amber Morgan said Monday. “All I could think and do was pray that it didn’t hit the house.”

Morgan’s Broughton Street home saw a total of five trees blown over by the storm.

The family’s front yard has three tall pine trees that were uprooted and knocked over, leaving large, crater-like holes. Two other trees are across their backyard.

They brought their three dogs into the home the night before and said it was incredibly lucky as their three dogs were tied to trees and would have been directly underneath as the other trees came down.

“We had God around us,” she said. “We had five chances for our house to get hit, that’s how I looked at it.”

Morgan said the first tree fell around 5:30 a.m. Saturday. It crashed into another tree, pushing it until it eventually gave way and knocked into another tree.

“The lights went out and then all you hear is the cracking and the trees were falling,” Morgan said.

“We had two of them fall and it hit the transformer,” she said, pointing to a broken power pole on their sidewalk.

Morgan said she saw the transformer blow up with blue and red lights, but thankfully there was no fire.

“DPU said we probably won’t have power for another two to three days because this was the worst that they’d seen so far in Orangeburg,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s husband, Chris Morgan, said his first thought upon seeing the trees was, “How are we going to move this stuff, what are we going to do?”

The family received help from longtime family friends Angie Strickland and Kameron Coleman.

“I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t have them,” Amber Morgan said.

Strickland, a resident of North, said Matthew’s impact there was a great deal less in comparison.

“In Orangeburg, it’s way worse than out that way,” she said. “The winds got up and everything, but it wasn’t nothing like here.”

Strickland is helping cut away at the tree trunks but expects the work to take the rest of the week.

“This one’s taken us all day so far,” she said.

“We still got three more to do,” Morgan added.

Coleman lives off of Highway 4 and also saw less damage.

“It’s minimum out there,” he said. “It’s not that many trees that actually fell.

“I just came out here and help my friends out, I know they needed it.”

Coleman said it’s a difficult task removing the trees from the yard but they don’t have a choice.

“We actually need some heavier equipment,” he said. “We don’t know how to move these without hurting ourselves but they still got to be moved.”

The family and friends have been working together to move the trees since Oct. 9 and said they’ve seen many people approach them offering to do the work but for a cost.

“We’ve had several people to stop by and want us to pay them to do it but I figure we can do it ourselves,” Amber Morgan said. “With the lights being out, we still have to have money for food.”

She added, “My light bill’s due next week, I still got to pay DPU and I don’t have lights.”

“They have lost all of their food,” Strickland said. “Everything’s gone.”

At the moment, the family gets their food from local restaurants.

One of the trees in the backyard fell into their driveway, blocking their ability to leave for supplies.

“We tried to cut our way out so we can keep getting in and out of the house and getting things that we need,” Morgan said.

The family has two daughters, 8-year-old Alyssa and 2-year-old McKayla.

Morgan said the two slept through the storm but she wasn’t able to.

“I didn’t sleep one ounce,” she said. “I hope we never have to go through this again.”

Morgan said the family is pushing through it a day at a time and, “We’re going to have faith and we’re going to get it done.”

___

Information from: The Times & Democrat, http://www.timesanddemocrat.com

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