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      SC crews to help restore power after Irene

      SCE&G trucks prepart to depart for Virginia to help crews there restore power after Hurricane Irene. / SCEG
      COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- Utility crews scrambled to restore power after Hurricane Irene raked across the Eastern Seaboard. But even with help from thousands of out-of-state repair crews, including SCE&G and the SC electric cooperatives, power companies say it may be days before some people see the lights back on.

      SCE&G trucks left Monday morning to help Dominion Power crews restore power in Virginia.

      Nearly 100 lineworkers from South Carolina electric cooperatives are also working to restore power in Virginia. Crews from Horry Electric Cooperative in Conway and Edisto Electric Cooperative in Bamberg left South Carolina Monday to help restore power to consumers served by Northern Neck Electric Cooperative. Crews from Aiken, Fairfield, and Newberry are also helping crews in Virginia.

      Our guys are reporting that, although there are significant power outages, the damage isn TMt as bad as first thought, said Todd Carter, vice president of Loss Control & Training at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina Inc., the state trade association for electric cooperatives. They hope to be finished by the weekend.

      Hurricane Irene blacked out more than 7.4 million homes and businesses over the weekend, nearly double the outages from the last hurricane to make landfall in the United States.

      Irene smashed power poles, ripped transmission wires and flooded electrical stations over thousands of square miles as it whipped north from South Carolina to Maine. Nearly 5 million power customers remain in the dark.

      The storm caused the second-largest power outage in Virginia TMs history as 2.5 million people were without electricity at one point, said Laura Southard, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)