Grand Strand community sticking together as Florence recovery continues

Hurricane Florence made landfall on the East Coast in September 2018 and proceeded to devastate the Carolinas, with the upper coast and inland regions of South Carolina bearing some of the storms’ most destructive impacts. Thanks to the widespread relief efforts by churches, non-profits, regional businesses and various community members, the Grand Strand has been slowly digging out. The ways in which community members came together has been truly extraordinary to witness.

Even as the storm was offshore, we at the Foundation were bracing for impact. We could scarcely have imagined the devastation that Florence had in store. The storm dumped between 20-30 inches of rain across the Grand Strand region, with winds reaching speeds of 70 mph in the most heavily affected areas. Flooding, downed trees and washed out roadways were commonplace along the storm’s path.

But the real news, for us, started emerging just hours after the winds receded. That’s when calls to help started pouring in. To date, nearly $500,000 in donations have been received from individuals, local businesses and national organizations.

There is no mistaking the tremendous impact we can make with a $100,000 relief grant from the Bank of America Foundation, which will be distributed to organizations such as Catholic Charities – Pee Dee Region, Impact Ministries and other local organizations through a partnership with local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

Thanks to the John S and James L. Knight Foundation, $75,000 in funds were given to provide relief and recovery, with $60,000 going to Catholic Charities in the Pee Dee Region and the Salvation Army of Horry County receiving $15,000 for disaster relief.  Then there is $30,000 from The Turner Foundation and the $65,000 raised from the benefit concert hosted by the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the City of Myrtle Beach and many others.

Consider the local children who sold lemonade to raise money for storm victims. Scores of others volunteered their own time and effort to mucking out flooded homes, to serving hot meals for those in need, and to bearing witness – and shoulders to cry on – for friends and strangers who had been affected by the storm’s wrath.

The Salvation Army provided 37,500 meals, 2,400 relief items such as blankets and cleaning items and almost 200,000 hours of labor from employees and volunteers. More than 60 non-profit and faith-based organizations in coastal and inland SC counties partnered to gather necessary supplies for the Lowcountry Food Bank to distribute. The communities’ combined efforts through LCFB delivered 1.6 million pounds of food and water to more than 5,000 families.

Our community clearly demonstrated how to come together in times of crisis, and Waccamaw Community Foundation is honored to be part of it.