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Ex-LI residents cope with Hurricane Dorian's devastation

Billy Breen, formerly of Manhasset, with Dorian-toppled trees

Billy Breen, formerly of Manhasset, with Dorian-toppled trees on Thursday in his Mount Pleasant, S.C., neighborhood. Credit: Brendan Breen

Jim Pickering is not sweating Dorian.

The former St. James native, now living in Carolina Forest, seven miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has trimmed the trees outside his home and brought the potted plants inside.

The retired Syosset schoolteacher who bought a four-bedroom house on a golf course in 2008, said his home is built to withstand the Category 2 storm that began arriving Thursday.

"The windows are built to withstand 140 mile-per-hour winds," Pickering said. "We have good drainage and the electrical wires are buried underground. I feel pretty safe."

But other residents of the Carolinas may not fare so well.

As Hurricane Dorian approached the coast Thursday, it brought storm surge flooding, sustained winds in excess of 110 mph, powerful tornadoes and other devastation.

Thursday afternoon, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said utilities were reporting more than 200,000 power outages statewide, with industry officials expecting the figure to grow to as many as 700,000.

Mike Arbuso, 51, a lieutenant with Horry County Fire Rescue in South Carolina, had been dealing with the storm's carnage since 5 a.m. Thursday, responding to reports of downed trees, vehicle crashes and flooding.

The North Babylon native, who moved down south in 2000, planned to work overnight through Friday morning, taking breaks only to check on his wife and two children in Little River, a community in the state's northeast corner where a number of tornadoes touched down Thursday.

"I need to take care of the family first," Arbuso said. "Then we'll be out there where we're needed. And then we'll go out again."

Billy Breen, who grew up in Port Washington and Manhasset, now lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, just northeast of Charleston. He said Dorian's winds are the strongest he's seen since he moved there seven years ago.

"We’re getting hurricane-force winds, gusts coming through, even though [Dorian] is out on the ocean,’’ Breen said. “ … this has just been sustained.’’

Still, the veteran of other southeast storms didn’t seem overly concerned. There are no large trees on the property where he lives, and the two-story town house that Breen shares with his wife, one of his two children and mother-in-law had not lost power by Thursday afternoon.

But downtown Charleston, which is floodprone even in ordinary high tides, had not fared as well, deluged with ankle-high floodwaters, according to local reports.

“They call this place the low country for a reason,” Breen said.

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