Florence County now estimates $52M in damage from Matthew

Florence County now estimates $52M in damage from Matthew

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Florence County Emergency Management declared damage from Hurricane Matthew at $52,481,667 as of Wednesday morning.

This final number was calculated after a three-day assessment from teams consisting of officials from the Florence County Building and Planning, tax assessor's office and emergency management.

The teams calculated 59 homes were destroyed, 133 had major damage and 2,014 suffered minor damage. Additionally, they said 32 businesses were destroyed, 24 had major damage and 214 sustained minor damage during the storm.

On Monday, Florence County was one of the 15 counties approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for individual assistance, so anyone seeking help for rental assistance, home repairs or low cost loans can apply.

Linda Hudson is one homeowner who lives in the Cloister's neighborhood on Damon Drive in Florence.

Trees fill the neighborhood, which is what caused a lot of the damage throughout the county after Hurricane Matthew. Hudson's front yard was taken over by a large oak tree and it came crashing into the side corner of her roof.

"It was still very overwhelming to look out my door and see total destruction, total destruction everywhere I looked," she said. "Not knowing how long it's going to take to fix, it if its going to be just right when it's fixed, when they are going to get to it, it's just still really frustrating."

Hudson recalled the moments she watched the storm outside her front door, right before the tree fell on her house.

"Before we could turn around and make a few steps, it hit, and it sounded like a bomb going off," she said. "It shook the whole house. You could feel the vibrations on your feet, you could hear the windows rattle. It was pretty scary for a while."

The tree was uprooted from the ground and Hudson said two other trees from neighbors came falling down with it.

"It was such an old, tall, big oak tree that the limbs went everywhere," she said. "I would say it's at least 100, if not 150 years old."

Damage was not limited to the outside of Hudson's home. She said inside the room the damage knocked the whole wall out forward, broke windows out and tore the bricks down.

"It wiped off the shutters and insulation on the top floor," Hudson said. "We thought the coastal towns would get the blunt of it and we would just maybe (get) a little wind and some rain. We never expected this."

Hudson called her insurance company the next day to file a claim and said she couldn't get out of her driveway for days, which was a worry for her 86-year-old mother who lives with her. Her only hope was the help of contractors.

"They worked from morning till dark trying to clear the limbs and trees out of here," Hudson said.

Hudson added all she can do is just wait for a new roof and all of the damage to be fixed, and said it is something many people there were not expecting..

To help with disaster recovery like Hudson, Florence County Emergency Management said they hope to open up two centers by Saturday, Oct. 21, for people to get help.

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