By Betsy Finklea
Hurricane Matthew ripped through Dillon County on Saturday leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
Thankfully, no deaths have been reported in Dillon County at this point related to the hurricane, according to Moses Heyward, Dillon County Emergency Preparedness Director.
Downed trees, some tangled in power lines, and widespread power outages continued throughout the county as of press time. The Duke Energy outage map shows power being restored to Dillon County by October 16 at 11:45 p.m. We were not able to obtain reports from other power companies at press time; however, we have learned some Pee Dee Electric customers on the outskirts of Latta have had power restored.
Heyward said that 9-1-1 and Disaster Preparedness have been working on generator power and that the fire stations have no power.
Highway 301 between Latta and Dillon at Buck Swamp remained flooded on Monday with only a few vehicles able to pass through. There were many other reports of flooded, washed out, and blocked roads throughout the county.Lines were extremely lengthy at gas stations still able to pump gas.
We have no official report on rain totals and wind speeds; however, more than 18 inches of rain was measured by individuals in Dillon and 13.92 inches in Latta.
Heyward, who has lived in Dillon County for 41 years, said it is the worst he has ever seen in the county during that time. “It was the rain that got us,” said Heyward.
A shelter was opened at Dillon Middle School, said Heyward. Heyward said that they had nearly 200 people there at the highest point. He said they wanted to open shelters in Latta and Lake View, but were unable to due to lack of staff. He said the Red Cross brought in MREs (made ready to eat meals) to the Dillon shelter. The Herald was told that people from Dillon and some people from Latta made it to the Dillon shelter; however, they could not get to the people in Lake View due to the road conditions.
Captain Cliff Arnette of the Dillon County Sheriff’s Office said there are extremely bad road conditions throughout the county.
Arnette said there is water on the highways; roads washed away; power lines down; and trees across the road. He said many homes and businesses have water damage and trees fell across some homes. He said there is a great deal of structural damage.
Arnette said people have been evacuated from their homes by rescue, fire department, EMS, and law enforcement personnel. Dillon County EMS and the City of Dillon Fire Department responded to a number of water rescues during the hurricane and the aftermath. “People are encouraged not to be on the roads or out unless it is an absolute emergency because of the driving conditions, and water, trees, power lines, and debris,” said Arnette. “This is putting first responders in harm’s way. First responders have been working around the clock since the hurricane,” said Arnette.
School was closed Monday and Tuesday due to the hurricane.
The Herald contacted Coach Jackie Hayes about the status of the upcoming Friday night football games and whether they would still be held. His answer, “Who knows?” We hope to have this information by Thursday’s issue.
The Herald attempted to get reports from officials in all three municipalities on Monday; however, reports were scattered as officials tried to help get things up and running.
In Dillon and Latta, there is curfew from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m.
Latta Town Administrator Jarett Taylor said they were working to help free up power lines, and he would have a report at a later date. Dillon Mayor Todd Davis will also have a report at a later time. We were unable to contact anyone in Lake View.
Many people were unable to return to work on Monday and were trying to clean up from the destruction left by Matthew. This has been a time to see Dillon County people pull together with neighbors helping neighbors during the aftermath and clean-up. While the storm wreaked havoc on the county, it will hopefully continue to bring out the best in its people.
Below is a gallery of staff and reader-submitted photos of Hurricane Matthew in Dillon County.
Photos by Johnnie Daniels/The Dillon Herald, Betsy Finklea/The Dillon Herald, Staci Price, Annette Rourke, Denease Chestnut, Cynthia Williams, and Bucky Rourke. Also photos submitted by Faith Mew.