A couple of weeks ago I was riding my bicycle up the boardwalk, a place where I normally will run into a few members of the Myrtle Beach homeless population at beach access points. That day was no different, and I was looking for interviews, trying to see if I could get a few folks to tell me a story about their particular unique situation out on the streets. As you all know, we just had a major storm called Hurricane Florence rip through the area. I did a blog article on this storm some weeks ago, all about how it’s late flooding had displaced many families across Horry County. And, in many cases, people had lost their homes for good.
The disaster had left lots of folks homeless in Horry County, but there were a few establishments that looked out for them as best as they could by providing food, shelter, and whatever else was needed. One of these places is Midtown Inn, located at 309 8th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach. I called the motel today (with it now approaching two months since the storm hit), and the receptionist said that there are still several of the flood evacuees there.
I’d heard how good Midtown was to the community after the storm, but hadn’t been able to interview anyone who’d moved there because of storm damage to their home. That is, until I ran into a guy that day a few weeks ago on the boardwalk who happened to be living at Midtown. Ricky Causey is one of the residents of Horry County who had major damage to his home because of flooding caused by the storm. “The water came up to like three feet inside the house,” he said. “Now, the restoration guys are redoing all my sheetrock, pulling up carpet, and drying everything out to prevent mold. Until they do that, I’m going to be living at Midtown.”
There are lots of residents in the same exact situation as Ricky who took a room at the motel, a place where the staff is generous, caring, and kind. “They actually gave me two weeks of rent for free,” Ricky told me. “After that, it was only $200 a week. In order to get that price, they said I have to rent it for at least three weeks. You can’t just go up in there and say, ‘Oh, I’m a flood victim, and I need a room for a week.’ No, it doesn’t work like that. You have to show them the documents from the Red Cross, and the FEMA documents that show them that your house was flooded. Then, they’ll give you the discount. The Red Cross is actually who told me about Midtown. There are about three couples up there still who were evicted by the flood, but everyone else has mostly cleared out.”
It’s hard to come back from a natural disaster, and even harder for folks to face the fact that, after a storm like Florence, they could be homeless in Horry County and/or at a motel, at least until they can replace their original homes and belongings. “It was a one bedroom house that I was renting,” Ricky said. “I basically lost all the furniture I put in there, but I managed to get the TV’s and much of the electrical equipment and put it in storage. But my living room suit, bedroom suit, and stuff like that are gone.”
If it wasn’t for Midtown Inn being a safe haven for people like Ricky, then chances are they would have had to depend on the aid of friends, family, or, if none of them were available, other means. “I probably would have had to spend several more days at the shelter. I did stay there for about a week and a half, but I’m glad to be at Midtown. They even have a food pantry. If you didn’t have much money, they had a room on the lower floor that was dedicated as just a food room. They also brought two meals a day in. You could also get other things from the room like towels, soap, shampoo, razors, whatever you needed.”
I just want to take a moment to say thank you to all the people at Midtown Inn who had anything to do with helping with the flood victims of Hurricane Florence. God Bless you all for opening your doors to those people, many of whom would have otherwise been in Horry County homeless.