Living in South Carolina, you get used to hurricane season, it comes along as sure as summer turns to fall. However, last year a hurricane hit that we would not forget in a hurry – its name was Matthew. After tearing through the eastern Caribbean, the Bahamas and Florida, the category 1 hurricane hit landfall in South Carolina on October 8 2016. With winds of up to 75mph, power lines fell and the MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology factory in Dillon, South Carolina was without electricity for a few days. However, this was a minor inconvenience compared to what happened to our neighbors in Nichols.
The town of Nichols is just down the road – about a 25-minute drive from Dillon. In fact, some of our employees commute from there every day. The town is bordered on two sides by rivers and, due the intense rainfall (some estimates were as high as 7 inches an HOUR) caused by the hurricane, both rivers burst their banks. Almost all the town was under around 4 feet of water for several days.
The hours after landfall
With river levels rising and beginning the breach their banks, the immediate response was quick. The Dillon Volunteer Fire & Rescue crew, which includes MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology employees, went to help the people of Nichols. Together with crews from other counties in the State, they worked tirelessly in the immediate aftermath: rescuing stranded people from their homes, evacuating the elderly to shelters, and building flood defenses.
We at MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology also wanted to make a gesture of support so donated pallets of water and cleaning supplies to the relief and recovery effort. However, I knew that this was only the beginning of a long journey for the town to get back on its feet.
The lasting effect of the hurricane
With Christmas approaching, many people were living in mobile homes next to their houses. Some were still waiting for their properties to dry out completely while others were just starting with building repair and renovation work. Some of our employees volunteered to serve food at a Christmas party for Nichols residents that was organized by the Red Cross. Despite everything, the atmosphere was fantastic and I hope it gave the participants a bit of festive cheer.
Cookout for the community
This year, our Community Involvement Team wanted to show their support for Nichols. The Team has representatives from most departments and identifies the specific needs of groups, charities and organizations in the area. It’s a great way for MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology to give back to our local community. So, in April of this year, we sponsored a cookout which not only included a traditional South Carolina barbecue but also games for the kids, basketball and other activities. From 10:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon, our team of employee volunteers grilled hundreds of hotdogs and hamburgers, all accompanied by baked beans, and offered visitors a selection of desserts.
The fast pace of modern life means memories fade quickly and the news moves on to the next big story. By sponsoring the cookout, we wanted to let the people of Nichols know we had not forgotten about them. It has now been almost a year since the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. However, we continue to stand side by side with our neighbors in Nichols.