Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Total Destruction

By: Steve Olson, American Red Cross

“How do you say ‘thank you’ when thank you is not enough?  How do you show your appreciation when you have no ability to repay?  The Red Cross has been phenomenal!  Everyone has been so kind and supportive.”   These are the words of City Administrator Sandee S. Rogers of Nichols, SC as she talked about the devastation of her community and the response shown by the American Red Cross.

The impact of the flood is overwhelming.  As Sandee went down the list of devastation, you could almost see her visualizing the people represented by her inventory of damage:  253 homes have major
 damage and will likely not be habitable.  53 homes were totally destroyed.  In addition, two restaurants, the bank, doctor’s office, pharmacy, post office, fire department, and every business in town including Carolina Eastern ag fertilizer company, a major employer, are gone.  All said they are not coming back.  The community’s six churches have been devastated.  Only 11 homes have minor to moderate damage and only 2-3 people are able to live in their homes at this time.

“It is a miracle that city hall survived.  It has served as a center of hope.”  The books on the library shelves have been turned into shelves of supplies and the library a center for supply distribution.  City hall, now more than ever, has become a place where people can come together.   

“This was the most humbling and most heartbreaking event in my entire life.  The city has been devastated, not by Hurricane Matthew, but by the flood waters from failed dams in North Carolina, specifically the Lumberton dam.”  Sandee remarked that there has NEVER been a flood like this.  The closest was in 1928. 

“Every time the Red Cross showed up they offered hope and encouragement, whether it be meals, shelter, mental health services, clean up supplies or other services.  The impact of the Red Cross was crucial, particularly for the older residents.”

I asked what Sandee would say to the American people if she had a chance, “The outpouring of love from within the state, neighboring states and throughout the country to help this small town was overwhelming.  I would never have expected it to happen.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

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