Her angry winds and heavy rains intensified in the Atlantic as Hurricane Florence barreled towards the South and North Carolina shared state boundary. Wilmington was first to be hit by a storm that slowed and dumped unprecedented amounts of rain on the area before it inched downward into the Palmetto State.
For three days Marlboro and Dillon counties endured the wind and rains. Then came the flooding. Streams, rivers and ponds overflowed inundating entire neighborhoods and expansive crop fields. When Florence finally took her leave, damage assessment and clean-up began.
At Marlboro Electric, the employees worked through the wind and rain. Trudging through knee- and chest-high waters, the lineman toiled as day turned to night – around the clock – intent on repairing an impaired power system so vital to modern-day life.
MEC crews weren’t alone. More than 80 linemen and other workers from as far away as Alabama and Missouri traveled to Marlboro and Dillon County to help rebuild damaged lines. Right-of-way crews worked on either side of local highways, and state forestry employees and members of the National Guard could be seen clearing debris from culverts and removing downed trees from roads.
Neighborhood restaurants chipped in to provided warm meals for crews even if it meant they had to prepare them by the light of a lantern because their restaurant had no power. When families required evacuation, it didn’t matter what one’s “official” job was; if you were closest to the scene, you pitched in and helped people to safety.
The MEC Trust understood immediately that people couldn’t wait for federal government assistance to begin. Families needed emergency funds for a temporary place to sleep or for food and dry clothing. The MEC Trust established a 501-C-3 fund for donations. MDT, Marlboro Development Team, was the first to step forward and donated $50,000. This generous act was quickly followed by others and soon the fund exceeded $100,000, all of which was distributed to families in need.
By early November most of the waters have receded and exposed the structural damage to hundreds of homes, vehicles and damaged crop land. It will be a while before life returns to normal in Marlboro and Dillon counties, but our character will allow us to move forward only to look back to remind us of the blessings we have today.