Widespread damage covered Lake Wylie as snow and ice pounded structures Tuesday through Thursday, and businesses felt the brunt of it.
Hank Hughes was one of the few people on the water Wednesday and Thursday, during the worst of a winter storm that dropped more than half a foot of snow on the area and created a state of emergency throughout South Carolina. He lives on a houseboat at River Hills Marina, but left when he found his dock dropped more than a foot by the weight of the snow on top of it.
“We were worried about our dock because the fingers were going under the water,” Hughes said.
What he found when he left was even worse. Structures collapsed at Terry’s Marina. Long Cove Marina had four or five docks collapsed. Harbortowne Marina had a roof low enough to touch some boats, but nothing collapsed.
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“It was just devastating,” Hughes said.
Hughes saw a private dock that “totally sank.” He spent his time loosening ropes on boats in his marina to allow a little leeway for the weight and avoid more damage. Hughes said his dock was down a foot-and-a-half at its worst, but was only down about 8 inches as snow melted this morning. The impact on marinas is unlike anything he’s seen in his eight years living here.
“I’ve never seen nothing like this,” Hughes said. “It’s not just the snow. When the ice came down, it was the weight.”
While the weight of the storm damaged some lakeside businesses, the timing of it hurt others. Magnolia House Florist expected big Valentine’s Day business this year since Bi-Lo closed in the fall. The shop closed part of the day Wednesday because of the weather.
“Normally, two days before Valentine’s we receive the bulk of our calls,” said Ashli Simmons at Magnolia House. “This year that would have been (Wednesday) and orders were very slow coming in. I think people were waiting to see what the weather will be on Friday.”
Staff still planned to deliver all day today until orders are complete. They hope for big walk-in business, too.
“Valentine’s accounts for 40 percent of our yearly business,” Simmons said. “Florists live from holiday to holiday and this is what gets us to Mother’s Day. But we are staying positive. We have a solid base of customers who are very loyal.”
On the water, it may be some time before all the damage is accounted. Hughes called a friend in Florida to let him know what was happening with his boat. Many local residents aren’t on the water during the winter or couldn’t get to the marina with icy roads.
“I’m sure a lot of these boats, the owners don’t even realize,” Hughes said.