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The flood: Community rallies to aid rural victims of storm

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Bernard Sherman of Pawleys Island knows from experience that an army travels on its stomach.

Retired after 27 years of military service, Sherman wanted to do something for the 70 National Guard troops stationed at the Georgetown Armory to provide assistance during the flood. He was among a number of schools and community groups reaching out to flood victims.

Sherman contacted his pastor, Father Wil Keith, at Holy Cross-Faith Memorial Episcopal Church with an idea to feed the men and women stationed in Georgetown. Keith contacted another parishioner, Josh Quigley, owner of Quigley’s Pint and Plate in Litchfield and BisQit in the Hammock Shops. Quigley offered to donate food, and Sherman delivered it on Friday and Monday.

Sgt. Cynthia Dominguez said it helps morale to get something different for a meal. Quigley sent big pans of pasta casserole, corn bread and fruit salad Friday and an assortment of biscuits and meat Monday. A Maryville restaurant has been catering for the Guard members since they arrived nearly two weeks ago. “A lot of times our dinner consists of a meat and a side,” Dominguez said. “It depends on who we can get to cater within our budget.” Women from her church delivered cakes and cookies last week.

Maj. Brock Clary of Charleston said National Guardsmen will be in Georgetown County until local authorities no longer need their help. They are assigned to six fire stations conducting operations with firefighters and first responders. Late last week, they were going door to door in flooded communities helping people evacuate. Their heavy trucks, called LMTV’s, can plow through high water. They took stranded people to fire stations where they either met relatives or caught a bus to a shelter, Clary said.

“Everything we do is in support of local authorities and first responders,” he said. “They make the call.”

In addition to Georgetown, National Guard units were stationed in Andrews, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Hemingway and Manning. “We task the unit most familiar to the territory,” Clary said. “It helps to have guys who know shortcuts and back roads.”

Not all are natives. Specialist Tom Scheffler had to leave classes at Coastal Carolina University to help with flood victims. He missed three tests last week, but professors and commanders have worked out a schedule to let him catch up. Originally from New Jersey, Scheffler said he was on active duty at Fort Lewis, Wash., when he switched to the National Guard. With the option of choosing a destination, he and his wife decided on Blackmoor near Murrells Inlet in order to get away from the rainy Northwest. “We wanted to go somewhere with beach and sun,” Scheffler said.

He said it’s hard to get people to leave their homes when they don’t want to go. “We are doing the best we can to try and convince everyone,” he said. “There are spots that look completely fine, but near the rivers, it’s pretty much devastated.”

People wanting to make donations to flood victims may do so through several means.

The Tidelands Company of Pawleys Island Real Estate Sales and Vacation Rentals on Highway 17 next to Carpet One is collecting items between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. Items requested include:

• Non-perishable food items: peanut butter, jelly, canned meats, tuna, bread, bottled water, individual fruit packs

Hard candies, food bars, pre-packaged crackers.

• Baby diapers, all sizes, baby wipes.

• Cleaning supplies: buckets, mops, Clorox wipes, trash bags, paper towels, Ziploc bags, cleansers and sprays

• Travel size toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, combs, brushes and feminine products.

• Pillows, blankets.

• Monetary donations may be made at gofundme.com/df5yg7yw

Organizer Kat Loftus said personnel will load trucks and carry items to those in Georgetown County and then on to the areas in and around Kingstree. Donations will continue to be accepted and delivered as long as the need exists.

For more information, call the Tidelands office at 843-979-2700 or Loftus at 843-240-1473.

Black River United Way CEO Lucy Woodhouse says her organization is waiting until it is safe to deploy volunteers and services throughout Georgetown and Williamsburg counties for cleanup and support. The Untied Way is discouraging in-kind donations of clothing, water, food and supplies in favor of financial contributions. To make a donation or volunteer go online to getconnected.uwasc.org

Students at Waccamaw Middle School donated a roomful of supplies for students affected by the flood, according to seventh-grade teacher Kim Williams. “By Friday,” she said, “there’s no telling how much stuff we’ll have.”

Other Waccamaw schools are also collecting items for flood victims, which will be delivered to Waccamaw High on Friday for distribution.

Any community group, church or neighborhood organization interested in providing assistance of any kind to school families may contact Lindsay Anne Thompson at lathompson@gcsd.k12.sc.us or 843-436-7053.

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