Governor surveys damage in flood-ravaged Nichols
NICHOLS, S.C. – “Let’s get it fixed.” That was the message from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster to a group of Nichols residents when his helicopter touched down at Battle Oil Co. LP in Nichols on Saturday afternoon.
McMaster spent the afternoon alongside S.C. Senator Kent Williams, members of the S.C. Department of Transportation, Emergency Management and National Guard touring the town of Nichols and surveying the damage with an aerial tour and a ride through the town escorted by the National Guard before heading down to Georgetown to survey damage in Horry County.
McMaster told the Morning News that the flooding is worse than that of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
“It’s worse because there’s more water,” McMaster said. “All three of the river basins in this area have flooded. We knew there was going to be a lot of water. The hurricane itself didn’t present much damage as it could have, but the water that we’ve been left with that’s coming down from North Carolina is much more.”
McMaster said the state is working with the federal government and is surveying all options to help rebuild the areas affected by the flooding.
“We have to bring all assets that we can to Nichols and other places that have suffered through this flooding that is worse than anything we’ve ever seen before,” McMaster said. “The president was here earlier this week and he said he would do whatever it takes and we’ve had several conversations about it. We’re seeking federal, private and state assistance. Every asset that we have in this state is being brought to bear to this area of the state.”
Williams said the flooding from Hurricane Florence was reminiscent of the event that occurred during Hurricane Matthew.
“It reminds me so much of Hurricane Matthew two years ago,” Williams said. “It’s hard to believe that we’re dealing with another storm, another catastrophic event. My heart goes out to those citizens who worked so diligently to get back into their homes and then all of a sudden, Florence shows up. I know, though, that they’re very resilient.”
Williams expressed his gratitude to Gov. McMaster making time to come visit the area.
“I really appreciate the governor coming down,” Williams said. “A lot of people are still being affected by the storm and we’re going to need a lot of resources. So, with the governor being here and giving his commitment, really lets us knows that he cares.”
Williams said the water is receding slower than last time, but he is hopeful that the residents of the areas affected in Marion County will be resilient and work together.
“We’re just asking the residents to keep the faith,” Williams said. “This is an act of God — man does not have control of this. But through God and faith and teamwork, we can overcome this. If there’s anything good that can come from this storm, it really brings people. All across the country, people are calling asking what they can do. That gives us hope and helps us to know that we’re not alone. Even after all of this, we’re still blessed.”
Michael Elliott, a Nichols resident and member of the city council, was one of the few residents who rode with the National Guard through the town.
“We’re all concerned about our local citizens, especially children and the elderly,” Elliott said. “It’s going to take a lot of dedication, concentration and motivation to get through this. With that said, you can’t say enough about the community as one to come together and make this happen once again. It’s only going to make us stronger and bring us closer together.”
McMaster said despite the tragedies that have occurred in the Pee Dee and along the coast, South Carolinians have remained unified.
“We work so well together in South Carolina,” McMaster said. “All of the people that have come from out of state — from the generals to Cabinet officials to the president himself — have been quick to observe just how well we as a state work together.”
“We’ll continue to work together, we’re like a big family and we’ll get through it,” McMaster said. “It’s not going to be easy and it will take time, but we will get through it.”