Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Towering smoke and flames greeted Georgetown residents early Wednesday morning, September 25, 2013. A fire that apparently started at the Sampit River side of Limpin' Jane's restaurant destroyed or damaged eight buildings and affected some 130 workers and another 10 or 12 people who lived in apartments above some of the dozen or so businesses.
Instantly, Georgetown City firefighters and police were joined by their fellow first responders from throughout the Lowcountry and Pee Dee of South Carolina. At least a dozen departments joined in the fight.
Ordinary citizens and businesses jumped right in to bring food and water, chairs and cots and tents and awnings to help the first responders and those affected by the loss.
Through it all, through the tough battle against the fire, much of the river side of the 700 block of Front Street was destroyed.
But, the rest of the city and the county is intact, open for business and determined that we will rebuild.
Meanwhile, stores on either end of the devastation — Thomas Café and Sweetie's remain open. The South Carolina Maritime Museum suffered some damage but is largely intact.
The Bridge2Bridge half-marathon run and the Wooden Boat Show will go on as planned.
We are open for business and we will rebuild.
Businesses and the people of Georgetown and those who love Georgetown have opened their hearts and their wallets.
Many and perhaps all of the businesses and property owners have insurance. That won't cover all the costs to rebuild, but will certainly help.
Mayor Jack Scoville told the Georgetown Times that all those affected have said they would like to rebuild and reopen. While things could change, that optimism brings to mind one of the mottoes of South Carolina:
"Dum spiro spero" — "While I breathe I hope."
We at the Georgetown Times and our companion papers— the Waccamaw Times, Inlet Outlook and County Chronicle — believe strongly in the bright future of our community. We are joined by Harborwalk Marina, long a key part of the group that makes up Georgetown Communications.
As reported online and on our Facebook page on Monday, we have donated $25,000 to the Fire Relief Fund.
That fund, set up by the Georgetown Business Association with partnerships through the Georgetown County United Way and the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce, will work to help people and businesses who lost so much.
Over this past weekend, Wildfish Grill hosted a party and raised more than $13,000. Most of the money is being distributed to those who lost jobs and their homes, while a significant portion is being contributed to the Fire Relief Fund.
Over at Duncan Methodist Church, the people there and Lands End Restaurant raised about $8,000 in a meal on Friday evening.
Visitors to the Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival at Huntington Beach State Park raised about $1,200.
Taken together, these contributions mentioned total at least $46,000. Others have also made donations directly to the Fire Relief Fund or through other efforts.
We will be getting weekly reports from First Citizens Bank on the growth of this fund.
There are other worthy efforts, and assuredly the Red Cross and Salvation Army appreciate financial support. Both of these agencies were on the spot immediately after the fire began in the early hours last Wednesday.
Georgetown has survived wars, battles, blockades, capture during both the Revolutionary War and the War Between the States.
We've been hit hard by floods, by fire, by hurricanes, by tough economic times, but we have come back each time.
Our people are vibrant and determined.
There's no doubt the Front Street Fire of 2013 is sad and will long be remembered.
There's also absolutely no doubt that we as a community will rebuild and will be better than before.
Thank you for reading this, reading our pages and for helping out in the weeks and months ahead as we all reach out to our neighbors.
We will rebuild.
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