Latta gets new park in hurricane destroyed neighborhood

Residents filled the new Henry Street Park in Latta Thursday night to celebrate the new community area

LATTA, SC (WBTW) – A new park in Latta is already bringing hope back to a tough part of town.

“Words are really, really hard to describe it,” said Jarret Taylor, Latta town administrator. Taylor is still struggling to find a way to describe all that the new Henry Street Park in downtown Latta will mean for a community that has been through so much.

“This area in particular was hit pretty hard by Hurricane Matthew,” he explained.

Already a poorer community, residents had little time to react when the storm dumped several inches of rain in just a few hours.

“It was in six to eight inches of water,” recalled Taylor. “The street behind was up to almost your waist in water; we evacuated almost 60 people out of homes.”

Not only did residents lose their homes and belongings, a neighborhood lost its place to come together.

“The basketball court was cracked; the rims were rusted,” Taylor explained. “We just had a very hard time keeping it up.”

That’s where the largest employer in Dillon County, Harbor Freight Tools, stepped up to help.

The company, which has a two million square-foot facility in Dillon, donated more than $600,000 to not only replace the park on Henry Street, but to also completely renovate it.

“This park just had no investment in it for decades and it was sad,” said Allan Mutchnik, Chief Administrative Officer for Harbor Freight. “This community needs that investment and we had the opportunity to step up and do that for this community.”

The neighborhood came out to celebrate a ribbon-cutting Thursday evening, getting a first chance to enjoy the investment made in their town. Kids enjoyed new swings and slides, brand new basketball courts and nets, and a full baseball field with scoreboards and backstops.

Jarret Taylor still can’t believe how much Harbor Freight has come through for this small town when they needed it most.

“This park brings hope,” the administrator said. “It’s a beautiful park and it allows people to come out and get outside of that mind and way of thinking that something bad happened here and see that something good has come out of it.”