Rice tours Nichols homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew

MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - U.S. Rep. Tom Rice visited Marion County Friday to check on the repairs to homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Matthew over a year ago.

Rice was instrumental in securing funding for a $95 million disaster recovery grant allocated to South Carolina in response to the category 1 hurricane that tore thousands of people from their homes.

The South Carolina Disaster Office plans to use funding to rebuild at least 1,350 homes.

"For most people, their home is maybe the central factor in their lives," Rice said. "It's certainly their largest asset and these people were devastated, and we worked hard to get them relief and we're putting that relief into effect now."

Nichols resident Gladys Gilchrist, 91, was one of those people forced out of their home. She remembers the night the hurricane swept through the Pee Dee like it was yesterday.

"On a Friday night they came and got me out and carried me to the fire department up there," Gilchrist said. "The helicopter couldn't find where to land so we had to get on a boat."

Five months later, Gilchrist returned to her home, only to find the floor, ceiling and windows damaged by the hurricane.

"The house got about two feet of water," Gilchrist said.

Today, it's a different story. Now she has new wood floors, a new roof and new windows at no cost to her. Gilchrist's son, Roger, said that's also a relief.

"It helps a lot, you know, due to my income and my mother's income so it's a great help what she's receiving and what they are doing. It's a blessing," Roger said.

As for Gilchrist, she's said she's speechless.

"I don't have words today, but I'm thankful," she said. Thank God that I stayed here this long."

Rice said about 10 houses are complete so far. He said contractors have agreed to complete 50 homes by next month and 650 by the end of year.

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