As bitter cold continues, schools adjust and carry on

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Where many Lowcountry school districts delayed school by two or three hours on Tuesday, most districts have plans to return to a normal schedule on Wednesday.

Officials from Charleston County, Berkeley County, and Dorchester District 2 said schools and buses would operate on a normal schedule Wednesday.

Georgetown County schools will operate on a two-hour delay, officials announced on the district's Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. Schools will still open at the normal time for parents who need to drop off students.

Colleton County School District officials said they do not anticipate any delays on Wednesday.

In Williamsburg County, schools will operate on a one-hour delay. According to the district website, employees are expected to arrive at the normal time and after school programs are expected to run as planned.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Charleston County schools officials said at least 20 buses had mechanical issues Tuesday morning but were fixed before the start of school due to the two-hour delay.

The district has 400 buses.

For some students, that extra two hours meant time relaxing at home. For others, that meant sitting in dark, powerless schools. Eleven Charleston County schools were without power for part of the day. Others lacked water.

Officials said Tuesday afternoon the issues were related to SCE&G problems, not school infrastructure issues.

"The duration of the power outages varied from two to three hours. We had heat-related issues, but they were all restored by 11 a.m.," said Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley.

Officials said they received complaints about the delayed start.

"We know that we have children who walk, children who aren't used to this kind of weather, maybe don't have the clothing necessary. We didn't want to bring our children in during the nighttime hours. We wanted to wait until we see daylight," said Chief Financial and Operations Officer Michael Bobby.

Meanwhile, public safety of community leaders are preparing for another cold night and looking for ways to bring people out of the cold.

In downtown Charleston, Hope Assembly on King Street will open at 7 p.m. for people looking for a warm place to stay. Organizers there are also accepting donations of hot food, blankets, and toiletries.

The Charleston County Sheriff's Office will also use the work release center on Leeds Avenue as a shelter. Officials there said there would not be background checks of people staying there.

According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the number of stranded motorists jumped from 187 to 618 in the past 24 hours. Troopers may be responding to another string of assistance calls on the state's highways Tuesday night as temperatures again drop back below freezing.

The sheriff's office said only a handful of people used the facility Monday night, but it can hold more than 100 people.

"We as law enforcement officers, officials, we're not only sworn to uphold the law or to enforce the law. We also provide protection. This is one way we're offering protection. We're offering a warming shelter to the community," said Maj. Eric Watson.

Officials said they are working with Crisis Ministries and the North Charleston Police Department to spread the word. CARTA is helping with transportation to the facility.

CARTA will being bus service at 5:30 p.m. to the detention center work camp for people who need a warm place to stay. The rides will be free. The stops will be located on Meeting Street at Columbus, Lee, and John streets. There will be another stop in downtown Charleston at Spring Street near McDonald's.

In North Charleston, pick-ups will be made across the street from TriCounty Family Ministries and at the CART stop near Goodwill on Rivers Avenue.

East Cooper Meals On Wheels representatives made an extra delivery of blankets along with the group's daily meals to people in need.

ABC News 4 Chief Meteorologist Dave Williams says the area may see more record low temperatures Tuesday night, possibly dipping into the teens.

SCE&G officials said they expect energy usage to remain high Tuesday night and into Wednesday until the temperatures move up above freezing. They are asking people to unplug any non-essential appliances to prevent more blackouts.

But that will change Wednesday when the weather will start a rebound of temperatures, reaching the 40s by the afternoon. By the weekend, the Lowcountry will be back in the 70s.

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