NICHOLS, SC (WMBF) - The town of Nichols is trying to recover from Hurricane Matthew, and need the help more than ever before.
The town's Mayor, Lawson Battle said the town only has 420 people and only 15 of those are able to live inside their homes again. A total of 261 homes have severe or major water damage, or are completely destroyed. All 22 businesses in the town were under water, and only one automotive shop is up and running.
Battle said all six churches suffered water damage, and more than 300 cars were feet under water. He explained it's hard to drive around town and not see people's belongings out on the streets. He said, "It's really hard to see everything piled up on the sides of the roads like it is, and the trash companies have been coming for three weeks now hauling stuff, so its still very devastating."
Once the water went down here in Nichols is when Battle said he was afraid everyone would forget about them, when this is when the reality actually set in. "Now is when we really need the help financially. Not only at the fund I told you about, but for the town operations, so I can keep paying my police chief, and my clerk and my one other town employee. I don't know how I can keep paying them, because we have no income coming in."
So Battle stated the importance of people knowing the town of Nichols Disaster Relief Fund is now set up at the Anderson Brother's Bank Headquarters in downtown Mullins. He opened the account for anyone to donate to, and all of the money will go back to the citizens of Nichols to help recover. Battle said, "It's really starting to grow, but it's going to take a huge miracle to rebuild Nichols back."
To help the cause, the Marion County Healthcare Foundation is matching every dollar donated up to $200,000 dollars. Executive Director of the foundation, Mary Dunbar said one account is specifically going straight to people in Nichols and the other is for all of Marion County. In one week, a recovery committee will begin and start the criteria as to who and how the funds will be distributed.
Butch Jones is one of the Nichols residents who is still out of his home. He said he tried to come back home two weeks after Hurricane Matthew, but he's still living in North Carolina. He said it's hard to drive around and not feel distraught.
"We've lost thirty years of my daddy's life here or most of his life here and majority of mine. There were things in there I've had since I was ten years old, so it's pretty bad. There's people riding around here just wishing they could save something, and they have nothing," said Jones.
Jones is one of those people trying to save what he can out of his home his grandma first moved into in the 1940's. He said, "I mean if you walk in there, you'd probably fall through the floor, which had been, I'd replaced two of them in there and now it's nothing."
The fear of where money or work is coming from next is real for Jones. He explained, "Financially, I don't think there is anyone around here that can re-build what they lost. There's no money to replace it. Nobody is getting the kind of money to even re-build their homes back, so what do you tell them."
Mayor Battle said the financial donations will be a huge help, and there's no doubt in his mind Nichols will make a come back because of how close knit the community is.