Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Downtown Georgetown is still open for business after a recent fire destroyed seven buildings along its historic Front Street.
That is the message the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce is working to tell people who would like to visit the historic city.
Brian Tucker, president of the Chamber, said Tuesday that although the affected part of the street is fenced off, foot traffic is still open along Front Street and many shops are open.
Two businesses on Front Street that were temporarily closed, Thomas Cafe and Sweetie's are now open.
Clean up continues, and the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce is working with the Georgetown County Emergency Management, the Georgetown Business Association and the Georgetown County United Way to help people most affected by the fire.
Tucker said on Tuesday that the Chamber has asked for help from the Georgetown County United Way to help keep track of the specific needs of those affected.
“Bringing in the United Way in is a huge help,” Tucker said. “They have infrastructure in place to help capture information and keep track of all these folks we are trying to help.”
These agencies are searching for longer-term lodging for the displaced families, as well as jobs, even if temporary, for those employees who no longer have a place to work due to the fire.
Local, state and federal agencies continue to work with those affected; however, all indications are that government assistance will be limited due to the scale of this incident.
There is a meeting today at the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments office. (See below for details).
“Volunteers will be there to collect contact information from all of those impacted and determine their needs,” Tucker said. “Most of the employees were supposed to be paid today or tomorrow and they need to pay rent and other bills, so we are trying to accommodate that.”
Tucker said there were 13 residents displaced by the fire, and as of last night there were five still staying in the Quality Inn Suites in Georgetown.
Since funding for rooms, provided by the American Red Cross, expired on Tuesday, money from the Front Street Fire Relief Fund will be used for that purpose.
Tucker said when he last checked on Tuesday morning, there was about $50,000 in the account.
There are also a number of corporate donors and upcoming fundraisers, so that number will increase, he said.
Pat Strickland, director of the Georgetown County United Way, said the best thing people can do is to give monetary donations for the businesses affected and residents displaced.
A committee has been formed to make decisions on how to most effectively use the money in the account.
On the committee, there are three representatives from the Chamber, Tucker, Jenna Jordan and Sean Phalen; three people from the Georgetown Business Association, Al Joseph, Lynn Mueller and Matt Wesolowski; Georgetown City Police chief Paul Gardner, who is chair of the GCUW board of directors; Ray Funnye director of public works with Georgetown County; Sam Hodge, emergency operations manager for Georgetown County; and Pat Strickland, director of the GCUW.
“That group met this morning,” Tucker said. “We talked about how to move forward.”
Contact the Chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org with information to be added to the list.
Stay connected to the latest developments in Georgetown County by following GCEMD social media feeds, twitter.com/GCEMD and facebook.com/GCEMD.