Hit hard by Florence? SC officials unveil effort to help families recover

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S.C. residents and families hurt by Hurricane Florence could begin receiving charitable assistance next week.

That news came as S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster announced a $500,000 donation Friday by UnitedHealth Group to the One SC Fund to help with statewide recovery efforts from Florence.

That fund, established in 2015 in response to a flood, has been re-activated to accept financial donations for Hurricane Florence recovery efforts, officials said.

“The (Waccamaw, Lynches, Little Pee Dee, Big Pee Dee and Lumber) rivers are flooding, and they have not even crested yet in some parts of the state,” McMaster said at a Friday press conference. “We’ve never had this much rain, this much water in the state. …

“This is the worst of times for many of our friends and neighbors in the Pee Dee area. So it’s always wonderful when people will come forward to help.”

Thursday, McMaster requested $1.2 billion in aid from the federal government as the state deals with continued flooding from the storm, which landed on the coast last week.

Established by then-Gov. Nikki Haley in response to the 1,000-year flood of 2015, the One SC Fund is managed by the Central Carolina Community Foundation. The fund provides grants to nonprofits providing relief, recovery or rebuilding assistance to individuals and families affected by disasters in the state.

To date, the fund has awarded more than $3.4 million in grants to nonprofits to support disaster recovery, providing food and clothing to more than 19,600 individuals and helping more than 1,633 families return to their homes, according to the foundation.

Central Carolina Community Foundation chief executive JoAnn Turnquist said the foundation will issue its first round of grants to aid those affected by Florence next week.

“This disaster is one of unique magnitude,” Turnquist said. “It hasn’t ended. It’s going to continue. And the people being affected are those in rural areas. They don’t have a Home Depot down the street. They don’t have a Lowes down the street. And, often time, they don’t have the volunteers or the funds to even know where to start.”

All of the dollars collected by the One SC Fund will go to aid those affected by the hurricane.

“We just finished putting the last of those refugees from the floods of 2015 back home,” Turnquist said. “So this is going to be a long haul.”

Garland Scott, regional CEO for UnitedHealth Group, added: “Our hearts go out to the people who have lost loved ones during this storm. We are deeply concerned about the impact to South Carolina, and we are committed to helping rebuild the state.”

In other developments Friday:

Richmond-based Dominion Energy, which is awaiting state approval to buy the embattled SCANA utility, said it is donating $150,000 to relief efforts. That includes $50,000 to the One SC Fund, $25,000 each to Harvest Hope Food Bank and Salvation Army in Columbia, and $50,000 to the American Red Cross.

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McMaster also issued executive orders granting paid leave to state employees who missed work because they were forced to evacuate or because of the state of emergency declared before the hurricane. It was not immediately known how many state workers are affected.

Want to help?

To donate to the One SC Fund or for more information, go to www.OneSCFund.org. Or send a check made payable to Central Carolina Community Foundation-One SC to: Central Carolina Community Foundation, 2711 Middleburg Drive, Suite 213, Columbia, SC 29204.