Blackout Closes Businesses, Schools

The Beaufort County blackout hit businesses on Hilton Head pretty hard. The power outage shut down thousands of businesses on the island from the Shelter Cove Mall to local restaurants and banks. The situation not only caused businesses to lose out on money, but was a big inconvenience for many.

Although it was nothing compared to the blackout in the Northeast, the power outage did have a small effect on hotels in the area. "Everyone has been very understanding," said Bob Pfeffer of the Marriot. "The biggest challenges were, we had some missed wakeup calls this morning and we also had some meetings scheduled."

The Marriott was able to relocate those scheduled meetings to rooms with plenty of sunlight. But for many who came on business, this blackout was a perfect excuse to skip out on the meetings and hit the pool. "It gave us a good excuse to come out," said Virginia Babson of North Carolina. "If you couldn't breathe in there, you could breathe out here."

However, unlike the blackout up North, tourists visiting Hilton Head Island still had a place to escape the heat: the beach or the pool. Tourist Tonya Hargin said, "We're on vacation, celebrating our anniversary, and it doesn't get any better than this. So electricity doesn't change that."

"We planned to stay outside, so it's really not bothering us here at all," added LeAnne Hollingsworth, also from North Carolina.

But it did cause quite a scare for many visitors. "I got in the elevator, just as I did the power went off just as the doors were closing, blacked out," said tourist Michael Godwin. "I grabbed the doors and pushed them open."

Some Beaufort County schools were also affected by the blackout. The school district cancelled classes once staff members realized it was not just a momentary problem. Many of the students didn't even make it into their classrooms. More than a thousand went home early.

And with every traffic light out on Hilton Head Island and most of those along US Highway 278 in Bluffton, traffic backed up pretty bad today. When the blackout first hit, cars were backed up for miles with people trying to get onto the island during rush hour. As the day wore on, the traffic flow seemed to smooth out quite a bit.

Crews had power back on just after 3pm this afternoon.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey,