Calls for help go out in Lexington, Richland counties to assist areas devastated by post-hurricane floods
USC, Lexington Police Department among those asking locals to donate items to aid those in Marion County disaster area
It was sunny, beautiful, and dry Wednesday in the Midlands. But in many areas of South Carolina, thousands of residents and businesses were still struggling to cope with a flooding disaster caused by Hurricane Matthew.
About 120 miles east of Columbia, the state’s Pee Dee region, Marion County, and its towns of Nichols and Mullins, have been especially hard-hit by the storm, which caused the Little Pee Dee and Lumber rivers to crest then spill their banks in the worst flooding seen there since at least 1928.
Around half of Nichols’ 400-plus residents had to be rescued from the flood waters, emergency officials said. And things weren’t much better in Mullins, either.
“It’s the worst natural disaster that anybody here has ever seen,” said Frank Oliver, chief executive of Wildlife Action Inc., a conservation nonprofit based in Mullins.
Marion County is among 15 S.C. counties so far declared federal disaster areas in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which killed at least five people in the state, including a Richland County man. Most of the counties under the disaster declaration are located in the Pee Dee and Lowcountry, but also includes Orangeburg County here in the Midlands.
To help residents and businesses devastated by the storm and its aftermath, a number of entities are pleading with S.C. residents to lend a helping hand by donating critical items.
The University of South Carolina announced it will collect donated goods Thursday and Friday for delivery next Monday to Nichols, Mullins, and other hard-hit areas of Marion County.
The university will collect bottled water, cleaning supplies, non-perishable food items, and diapers both days at two locations, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the university’s Alumni Center at 900 Senate St. and from noon to 6 p.m. at Bi-Lo at 4464 Devine St., where a Gamecock Football equipment truck will be stationed.
The Lexington Police Department began collecting items for displaced and distressed residents on Tuesday, and will wrap up its collections from noon until 8 p.m. Thursday at the Lowes store at 5412 Sunset Blvd. in Lexington.
Donations also can be dropped off during business hours at the Lexington Police Department, located at 111 Maiden Lane in Lexington. To schedule a pickup, donors can contact Cpl. Cameron Mortenson at (803) 358-1504, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the Lexington Police Department have asked for donations of heavy-duty face masks; thick work gloves; Gatorade; gift cards from Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, and Visa; laundry detergent; trash bags; moving boxes; unworn socks and underwear; pillows; 36-inch crowbars; diapers; mops; brooms; personal hygiene items; hand sanitizer; bottled water; bottled water; cleaning supplies; rags and old towels; tissue paper; plastic storage bins; cereal bars; work goggles; heavyweight hammers; baby wipes; buckets; paper towels; and first-aid items.
“Few places in South Carolina were as devastated by Hurricane Matthew than the town of Nichols,” said Lexington Police Chief Terrence Green. “This is a community that is still flooded throughout town and the lives of these residents will never be the same. Many in this town are elderly, and nearly all do not have any type of flood insurance to cover their losses.
“Over the years I have seen the generosity of the town of Lexington community over and over, and we look forward to taking a significant donation to Nichols later this week to help those in need,” Green added.
At the university, volunteers with UofSC Relief, a student-led service initiative, will help load a Gamecock Football tractor-trailer truck, which is scheduled to depart the Alumni Center at 11 a.m. on Monday.
The university’s relief effort is a collaboration of the university’s My Carolina Alumni Association, Athletics Department, and UofSC Relief, along with the South Carolina Police Chiefs’ Association, and Shealy Truck Center.
“As Gamecocks we are driven by a sense of responsibility, instilled in us as students, that we live as alumni,” stated Jack Claypoole, executive director of My Carolina. “There are so many of our fellow alumni and friends impacted by this storm that it is only natural for us to use our greatest strength – our alumni – to rally in support of South Carolina.”
Claypoole said the Thursday and Friday collections “will be the first of several university efforts to collect much-need items to help communities in their recovery from Hurricane Matthew.”
Midlands residents, he added, are encouraged to look for additional information to be released about future collections in the coming weeks.