Marion County gets double-whammy with ice storm

This week's storm not only hit Marion County particularly hard, but it also has compounded existing economic problems in the area.

Marion County has the second highest unemployment rate in South Carolina.

Over the years, residents have seen the economic setbacks increase after big businesses shut down throughout the county.

Life-long resident of Marion County Betty Inman said the storm, which toppled trees and power lines in its path, was one of the last things the county needed.

"It's bad off enough now. And with all these hang-ups and everything. No jobs," Betty said. "We don't need this kind of disaster."

Betty, 76, also is one of thousands of residents in the county without power on Friday, according to Marion County Emergency Management Director Brandon Ellis.

The power outages also hit area businesses. According to the City of Marion's Mayor Bobby Davis, all businesses were forced to close for at least 24 hours, because they had no electricity.

Many have reopened since, but there are still some closed.

This comes at an unfortunate time for the city, because it has a downtown revitalization project underway which is geared toward bringing more people to the downtown district.

"It is devastating because we are trying to build it back up so that we would bring people back downtown as opposed to going to Florence and other shopping centers," Davis said.

Ultimately, Davis said this is a minor setback and the city will recover and rebound.

According to Marion County Emergency Management Director Brandon Ellis, this storm did not cause major structural damages of homes or other commercial buildings and businesses.

Ellis also said that the people of Marion County have shown their resiliency in the past after a similar ice storm struck the area in 2004, and he said he expects residents to do the same this time around.

"The people of Marion County have proven time and time again that they're resilient. We'll recover from it, we'll get over it, and we'll get past it," he said.

Total costs for all of the damages are currently being tabulated by Ellis and his crew.

He said these figures will be presented to state and federal agencies to determine if the county will be eligible for any assistance.