MULLINS, SC (WBTW) – The town of Nichols was one of the hardest hit in the Palmetto State. Many of the thousands displaced from Hurricane Matthew’s devastating floods found shelter just up the road.
“I said ‘oh my god, water is in my house,'” said Nichols resident Margaret Tart.
Tart has seen her home on Pee Dee Island Road in Nichols flood time and time again. But by the time Matthew passed through the Pee Dee on Saturday, the rising Little Pee Dee River quickly became more dangerous than any storm she’s seen before.
“I couldn’t see nothing but water, river water,” Tart recalled.
When the water started creeping inside her house, she recalls seeking the highest ground she could.
“I got on my sofa with my feet to keep from walking on water,” she explained.
Eventually though, as the Little Pee Dee River continued to fill her home, Margaret knew it was time to escape.
“They had to bring a boat under my carport to come and get me and take me to the railroad track,” recounted Tart. “Then another boat came and met us.”
Once they found dry land, Tart and over 160 of her neighbors ended up at Palmetto Middle School in Mullins. There, the America Red Cross has volunteers offering shelter, clothes, blankets, and emotional support.
“You couldn’t ask for better people, I mean the food they just make sure we have everything we need,” Tart said.
“Their little town has been devastated,” said Red Cross Shelter Manager Rustie Langendorfer. She oversees the volunteer effort at Palmetto Middle in Mullins. She said even through Matthew’s devastation, the community is doing what it can to step up and help those most in need.
“The neighborhood has been extremely generous,” Langendorfer said. “Bringing anything and everything that we needed, and they’re coming to ask what we need.”
Volunteers with the Salvation Army came from as far as Kentucky and Florida to cook meals for everyone.
“We came here with 3 days worth of food and walked around Sam’s coming up with easy meals we could make,” explained Doug, a volunteer with Salvation Army as manned the grill in a small trailer on the shelter site.
Margaret Tart and her neighbors sheltered in Mullins are incredibly thankful for all the help from across the country, but know they’ll need all the help they can get to recover from Hurricane Matthew’s devastation.
“Just pray for us,” she pleaded. “Please pray for us because we need it.”