Editor’s Note: This information is a sampling, gleaned from various sources, of local assistance efforts, the accuracy of which was believed to be true at press time.)
Business owners and residents in the Lowcountry all faced the same dilemma in the aftermath of hurricane Matthew: What to do now?
In the slow, uncertain return home after the evacuation order was lifted last Monday afternoon for Beaufort County and Tuesday mid-afternoon for Hilton Head Island, neighbors did what neighbors do. They helped each other as best they could.
Here is a small sampling of how local businesses and organizations reached out to the community:
The Cottage on Calhoun Street opened its patio and doors early on Oct. 11 to first responders and utility lineman for a free meal of eggs, toast, bacon, fruit and coffee. The next day, The Cottage opened for four hours and served free fried green tomatoes, blackened shrimp power salad and other limited menu items to emergency personnel. The general public made cash donations per plate.
Owner Leslie Rohland, a 17-year Bluffton resident, wanted to give back to the community in its time of need, because this time the town and the Hilton Head weren’t spared nature’s wrath by the hurricane like they had been in past years.
“We are survivors,” she said. “We are very lucky in Bluffton… It’s all about the community; it’s all about us together as one. It’s all about empathy, sympathy and compassion.”
Rohland said the café served free meals and beverages to about 100 first responders, who were very grateful. Weary islanders and tourists who crossed the bridge also found a comfortable respite at the café.
“They were so damn tired; all they could say was ‘thank you’,” she said.
Josh and Kali Cooke opened the Corner Perk in the Promenade for a “short day” Oct. 11 and offered free coffee for anyone who wanted it. Though they weren’t able to serve their regular menu, the couple posted on their business Facebook page that “we are eager to see your faces and be there for you as you get to work.”
Corner Perk also offered to deliver free coffee to any nonprofit or government organization or group that would like some.
Palm Key Catering and Events in Ridgeland, with a donation from StoneWorks, went mobile and provided hot, fresh food to emergency workers and those in need on Oct. 12 at a makeshift location on Route 46.
Bi-Lo supermarket made available 40,000 pounds of free ice to residents whose homes lost power to help keep perishable foods fresh as long as possible. Several area locations participated in the two-day effort, including Burnt Church Road in Bluffton, and Mathews Drive and Pope Avenue on Hilton Head.
When Sippin’ Cow owner Christy Pinski was returning to the Bluffton area last Monday after the hurricane had passed through, she heard on the radio about the dire situation on Daufuskie Island: no power and no phone service, not to mention the physical damage.
She had friends there, so on Wednesday she reopened her recently relocated café in the Promenade and used her site as a drop-off point for donations from the public. She and some of her mainland friends purchased some needed supplies at their own expense, and the public donated non-perishable goods and other items.
Generous residents also contributed $172 to the cause. As of last Thursday, she and her local team had made two boat trips to Daufskie delivering gasoline, water, bread, milk, boxes of macaroni and cheese, and other goods.
“This community is super special in time of need,” Pinski said.
About 225 National Guardsmen who were stationed on standby at the Buckwalter Recreation Center in Bluffton were the recipients of generous residents who supplied them with food, snacks and water last week.
Free warm meals were on the menu at distribution point locations in Bluffton and Hilton Head, courtesy of the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Ruby Lee’s South restaurant on Dunnagan’s Alley on the island provided free lunch last Wednesday to first responders, civic personnel and government employees who assisted in the hurricane recovery effort.
First responders, utility lineman and clean-up crews received free jerky and water last Wednesday at the Hilton Head House of Jerky in Coligny Plaza.
Stack’s pancake restaurant in Hilton Head offered free food last Thursday to first responders, volunteers and government employees.
Poseidon restaurant at Shelter Cove offered a free hot meal for four hours Thursday to anyone in need.
Bluffton Self Help reopened last Wednesday to provide non-perishable food items and clothing to neighbors in need.
Dean Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer.