By Charles Warner
UNION COUNTY — There are more than 40,000 homes in Columbia without running water and some parts of Sumter County have been without running water since Saturday and that’s why the Union County Sheriff’s Office is asking the people of Union County to continue donating bottled water and other items needed by the residents of those communities.
The convergence of a continental low over the eastern United States and Hurricane Joaquin over the Atlantic Ocean produced a storm system that inundated South Carolina with massive amounts of rain this past weekend. The heavy rainfall caused flooding in South Carolina, especially in the Coastal and Midlands areas of the state, blocking roads, causing power outages and disrupting vital services such as running water, and forcing people from their homes.
While the storm system dropped as much as eight inches of rain on part of the county, Union County, along with much of the rest of the Upstate, was largely spared the catastrophic damage experienced in the Midlands and Coastal areas of the state. This prompted SLED Chief Mark Keel in Columbia to contact county sheriffs in the Upstate about the desperate need for bottled water there and elsewhere and ask for their assistance in getting it to the people in the affected areas.
In response to Hill’s request, Union County Sheriff David Taylor, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright, Laurens County Sheriff Ricky Casteen and Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller have organized collection efforts in their respective counties. The collection effort in Union County got under way at 8 a.m. Tuesday when the sheriff’s office set up a collection point in the parking lot next to Hardee’s. For more than four hours deputies and other personnel from the sheriff’s office along with volunteers collected and loaded more than 2,000 cases of donated bottled water on trailers, pickup trucks, even the Union Emergency Services Mobile Command Unit. They also collected some other donated items as well as monetary donations.
All the bottled water and other donated items were then transported by sheriff’s office personnel and the volunteers. Their intended destination was Columbia but while they made several stops there, they also ended up going to Sumter County.
“We left here with instructions to go to Columbia,” Taylor said Wednesday morning. “We got redirected four times. We ended up dropping off some water at SLED. We dropped off some at the Sheriff’s Association and some at the Richland County Sheriff’s Office. Then we took the remainder to Sumter County.
“We met up with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office in Columbia and they had 18 pallets of water on a tractor trailer,” he said. “They followed us to Sumter and we unloaded it all there.”
Taylor said the water was desperately needed in Columbia and even more desperately needed in Sumter County.
“There are 40,000 homes without running water in Columbia and they just got the water back on at the Richland County Sheriff’s Office yesterday afternoon,” Taylor said. “There are some places in Sumter County that have been without running water since Saturday.”
Taylor said the multiple stops in Columbia and the trip to and unloading of bottled water in Sumter meant he and the personnel from his office along with the volunteers didn’t get back home until early Wednesday morning. He said this was also partly due to the problems caused by the flooding in Columbia and Sumter.
“The problem is we had to alter our route some because of washouts,” Taylor said. “We got home this morning about 1:30 and we were back here this morning at 7:30.”
The “here” Taylor referred to was the parking lot next to Hardee’s where, as they did Tuesday morning, sheriff’s office personnel and volunteers were hard at work collecting and loading up bottled water and other donated items for transport to flooded areas like Columbia and Sumter County.
Taylor said residents of the affected areas are in dire need of bottled water and other supplies that will not only meet their basic needs, but help authorities maintain order.
“The sheriffs down have had to put curfews in effect in some areas and they’ve had to deal with some disturbances,” Taylor said. “The main cause of this is that people are without water.”
To help address that problem, Taylor said the collection point will continue this morning and Friday morning from 8 a.m.-noon each day in the parking lot next to Hardee’s.
While bottled water is still the item most needed, the collection effort is expanding to include other basic necessities needed by the flood victims. Those items were being collected and loaded for transport Wednesday morning along with bottled water included:
• Food items such as cereal, peanut butter, canned food, mustard, ketchup, macaroni and cheese, juice, coffee, and soft drinks.
• Personal care/hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, diapers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, baby wipes, sanitary pads, hand sanitizer, mouthwash, q-tips, shaving cream, and razors.
• Household items such as paper towels, trash bags, disinfecting wipes, and household cleaning supplies.
• Pet care items including dog food, cat food, and kitty litter.
Those working to collect and load up the donated items asked that persons wanting to donate toothbrushes donate those packaged individually rather than in bulk packs so they can remain in their packaging until distributed. They also asked for donations of deodorant and wash cloths in addition to the other items already being donated as they have received very few of them.
Also being collected Wednesday morning were blankets, comforters, socks and adult and children’s clothes and children’s shoes.
Kim Bailey, administrative assistant to Taylor, said that the decision was made after something she and the other transporting donated items saw in Columbia on Tuesday.
“There was a drop-off box in Columbia with clothes in them,” Bailey said. “We saw little children digging through those boxes trying to find clothes for themselves.”
For more information about the collection drive contact the Union County Sheriff’s Office at 864-429-1612.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or [email protected]
Personal care/hygiene items like toothpaste were among the items being collected Wednesday morning by the Union County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office is collecting bottled water and other items needed by flood victims in the areas of the state such as Columbia and Sumter County. The collection effort is being held every morning through Friday from 8 a.m.-noon in the parking lot next to Hardee’s.
Paper towels, diapers, trash bags, baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, and toilet tissue were being loaded on this truck Wednesday morning. The Union County Sheriff’s Office has set up a collection point in the parking lot next to Hardee’s for people to bring donated items such as bottled water from 8 a.m.-noon each morning through Friday. Sheriff’s office personnel and volunteers are collecting and loading up the donated items which they will in turn transport to the areas of the state devastated by flooding.
Cereal, crackers, juice and soft drinks are among the food items being accepted at the collection point set up by the Union County Sheriff’s Office in the parking lot next to Hardee’s. Food, bottled water and other basic necessities are being collected by the sheriff’s office each morning from 8 a.m.-noon through Friday for transport to the areas of the state affected by flooding.
Bottled water remains a pressing need for flood victims in Columbia, Sumter County and other parts of the state. The Union County Sheriff’s Office is collecting bottled water and other items for transport to the areas affected by flooding. The collection effort is taking place in the parking lot next to Hardee’s each morning from 8 a.m.-noon through Friday.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or cwar[email protected]