MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Several South Carolinians with the American Red Cross are working in Dixie County, Florida, to help those impacted by Hurricane Idalia.
Michael Hesbach of Florence, executive director of the Eastern South Carolina Chapter of the Red Cross, went to Florida a couple of days before the storm with 125 mph winds made landfall along the state’s Gulf coast.
He said the Red Cross still has boots on the ground helping those in need.
“Horseshoe Beach is their little slice of heaven on this planet, and they are a tight-knit community,” Hesbach said.
Those living in the small coastal town are picking up the pieces of their homes and lives that were destroyed when the Category 3 storm came ashore last week.
“The residents here are very resilient,” he said.
Hesbach said a significant number of homes were washed away by the storm.
“Then you see houses with significant wind damages,” he said. “There are houses that have literally come off their foundation and moved down the street.”
According to Hesbach, the area received 10 feet of storm surge and lost power entirely. Fortunately, he said every resident evacuated before the storm made landfall.
Now, they are returning to what’s left of their homes to begin the long road to recovery, he said.
“I’ve walked a lot of Horseshoe Beach and I’ve seen the damage, and you can see a house, and to the untrained eye on the outside, you’re like “OK, there are no trees through it,'” Hesbach said. “Everything looks OK, but when you see the water line of where the water went in, that’s the tell-tale sign.”
Hesbach said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s assessment rules say that if flooding reaches 18 inches within a stick-built house, that’s considered catastrophic damage because it can enter the electrical system.
Hesbach said he is confident the community will stand back up and said he is proud to be helping them.
Hesbach said one highlight of his deployment came from the unincorporated Suwanee Township.
“One of the emergency response vehicles that came in and brought 30 cases of water bottles and 200 meal boxes was the Red Cross’ emergency response vehicle from Myrtle Beach,” he said. “I didn’t even know our ERV was here. There’s 400 Red Cross volunteers, and to see our ERV coming in with Gary and Bud was just like ‘how does that happen?’ We are serving the disaster relief operation across two states, and Myrtle Beach is rolling in strong in little Suwanee.”
He also said that was the first relief organization to enter Suwanee after the storm to drop off food and water to the residents.
Anyone who wants to support Hurricane Idalia relief efforts can visit americanredcross.org.