Marion group looks at ongoing recovery efforts one year after Hurricane Matthew

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MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Marion Long-Term Recovery Group observed the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Matthew by hosting “A Celebration of Survival” event Monday afternoon.

The organization formed in December 2016 after Marion County was hit hard from the flooding of Matthew. Chairman Michael Blue wanted to give local and state leaders, along with residents, an update and a celebration of the progress of the county so far.

Blue said he doesn’t want the recovery efforts to ware off and the $52 million federal grant awarded in January is not going to cover all the needs.

“The grant that has been talked about so much primarily provides for construction and the infrastructure of the home, but as far as bedding, the actual tables, chairs, those kind of things are secondary, so those things are needs here in Marion County,” said Blue.

The South Carolina Palmetto Disaster Recovery said there are 622 open cases in Marion County and the office of Housing and Urban Development is projected to help a total of 800 households impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

Blue said that means there is still room for people to apply for the funding.

“When FEMA left, some people thought that everything was over and that is simply not true,” he said. “The state and the state’s construction firm are still here. It is definitely not over and that’s why meetings like this are so important, because there are still people who are reporting that they did not know there is an intake process and that people were still here.”

Nichols resident Margaret Tart is still not able to move back home. She lives along Pee Dee Island Road and her house is completely gutted from top to bottom.

Tart said United Methodist Church volunteers worked on it in December 2016 after she moved out of a shelter the month before.

“We stayed in a shelter from October the 9th until November the 5th. I had 5 feet of water in the house; I lost everything,” Tart said. “I woke up to water on my feet and on the couch, and closets. Everything was floating.”

During the event, she said she wants her story to be a voice for others.

“I keep upbeat, because I don’t want to have those pity parties, so I just trust God,” Tart said. “I know it’s coming. HUD keeps telling me, ‘Miss Margaret, you’re on the list, you’re on the list.'”

Blue wanted to give a call to action at the end of the event and said if anyone still needs federal help, the deadline to receive funding from the South Carolina Disaster Recovery is Nov. 10.

The intake office is on Main Street in Marion, where anyone can apply.

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