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National Guard on scene after Irma's winds topple trees, knock out power in Cashiers

Residents are getting assistance from National Guardsmen out of Charlotte to help clear trees from the roads after Irma's winds sliced into the high elevations of Jackson County on Monday. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Irma's winds sliced into the high elevations of Jackson County, including Cashiers, toppling trees and knocking out power on Monday.

Residents are getting assistance from National Guardsmen out of Charlotte to help clear trees from the roads.

They've brought in heavy equipment to clean up the debris and keep the flow of traffic moving, especially for any emergency calls.

The remnants of Hurricane Irma hitting Western North Carolina was a bit of an irony to Marin Coleman, who came up from Savannah, Georgian, to escape Irma.

“And it's hitting here, too, the place we evacuated to,” she said. “And now we're trying to get back, and it's proving to be difficult.

“There's lots of limbs and trees everywhere, downed trees. It's really slow going,” said Mitchell and Jennifer Curry, who are also from Savannah.

By late Monday afternoon, winds were whipping through at about 25-30 miles an hour, with gusts up to 60 mph.

The fire department said winds toppled dozens of trees and initially knocked out power to 8,000 and caused major damage to 15 homes.

“We ended up running 65 calls before midnight. Our rescue squad answered over 20 calls ourselves, helping cut trees out of the road, checking on people,” Cashiers-Glenville Fire Chief Randy Dillard said.

Ed Henson was headed back to his home on Whiteside Cove Road on Monday afternoon when he discovered a huge white pine right next to his house had crashed down.

“Fortunately, it fell away from the house. So, we didn't have any damage. So, we were very very lucky,” he said.

Dillard said Duke Energy is on the scene with about 100 trucks working around the clock to get power back on. Despite all the damage, he said no one was injured in the storm.

Duke Energy said in a news release Tuesday night it expects to restore power to almost all North Carolina and South Carolina customers by late Friday, if not sooner. In the North Carolina mountains and Upstate South Carolina, customers can expect to have power restored by 11 p.m. Friday. However, 95 percent will be restored sooner.

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