Holly Bounds Jackson | October 14, 2016 3:30 PM ET
Post-Matthew, Humanity Shines in South Carolina Lowcountry
All photos courtesy of Facebook/Holly Bounds
Editor's Note: This column was originally posted on Facebook by WSAV-TV reporter Holly Bounds Jackson. She's a friend and former colleague of mine in Bluffton, S.C. I lived in Bluffton for 10 years before returning north to be closer to family. Our managing editor, Barry Kaufman, still lives in Bluffton, in the house next to my house, which we still own. He and his family evacuated to North Carolina and I was trying to monitor the Hurricane Matthew situation from 1,000 miles away, praying for my Bluffton friends who had become family in the closest thing to a hometown I've ever known.
Holly provided vital information, working non-stop for a week, from hours before the storm Oct. 13 through Wednesday with just small patches of sleep at a time. She stayed behind, sending her husband and two young daughters to safety while she stayed in Bluffton to report to thousands begging for any morsel of hope or knowledge to physically and emotionally weather the storm. Her Facebook Live streams were constant, filmed between segments on her station. After the storm, she drove the battered streets of Bluffton and nearby Beaufort, with her phone broadcasting on Facebook Live as she took real-time requests to visit neighborhoods so folks who had evacuated could see if their homes had survived intact.
Her words below are amazing, but I wanted her to get the proper due. She wasn't alone, there were other reporters and town officials stepping up to hero status. But Holly's always been one of my favorite reporters, and favorite people, period. Her heart, her hustle and her courage to stay on air through all Mother Nature had to offer were so important to hundreds of thousands of Georgia and South Carolina natives watching around the world. - Tim Wood, Editor-in-Chief
Though the storm has just started in a lot of ways around here, the fact I get a day off work tomorrow makes it the right time to pause and reflect on the past eight days. My fingers wouldn't stop if I proceeded to tell you all the emotions I've experienced and witnessed since the first threat of severe weather.
As a mom, I dreaded every word of the conversation about the danger of a hurricane, why I had to stay behind and what it meant for that Disney trip we'd been counting down for weeks. Plus, I have a five-month-old I'm quite crazy over and the idea of separating from her made my stomach hurt.
As a reporter, I rehearsed potential circumstances in my head and how I would handle them. (Read: Motherhood removed any desire to take Cantore's job.)
The chaos that came with packing up the family, getting my gear ready and making the trek back and forth upstairs to unload everything I cared about busied my mind enough to mask the fear of a natural disaster.
Until all that was done.
Friday morning I started having doubts about the plan Bluffton Fire Captain Randy Hunter and I had discussed for days. Was it safe enough at their building? I sent him a message and he assured me I was in good hands and I need not worry. For whatever reason, at that point, I had a peace about what lied ahead and decided it was time to get to work.
The hours have been long but I'd only tell my boss it's been tough. What I want you to know, if you aren't yet convinced, is there's no reason to lose faith in humanity. If you have, take a trip to the South Carolina Lowcountry. We are now open for business.
Meet firefighters like Matt Baker, who petted my dogs while they got fresh air during their extra-long ride in a crate for a hurricane stay.
Or Sandy Stroud, who gave our news car a jump without a second's hesitation.
Or Randy Hunter, who went even higher and farther than above and beyond to meet my media needs. He even agreed to a live interview in the pouring rain in the middle of the night and had no extra dry pants.
There's also the one who crashed my FaceTime call with my daughter after hearing she loves "emergencies."
Meet Richard of Pour Richard's restaurant who fired up the grill in his parking lot and fed anyone who came by.
Find Don Carroll of Katie O'Donald's who not only let our crew in after closing, but gave us a heck of a good time and hilarious memories. (I'm still confused by the soda gun.)
There's Irene and Tony Vouvalides, my neighbors, who started by cooking me meals and never balked as word spread fast to my colleagues and soon enough, they were feeding four extra mouths. They welcomed us into their home and provided a place to relax and an atmosphere where I didn't feel like I should talk to my co-workers about work. Instead, we talked about family, friends and what matters to us.
There's the tow truck driver of Carolina Towing who gave us a ride to video some of the worst damage that our car would have never managed.
Find Susan Dee, a Bluffton school teacher who is using her days off to remove debris from homes that got damaged.
There's Shane Whittaker, 10, and Austin Bauer, 13, who got the brooms from their kitchen to sweep the skate park because they knew responders should focus on more serious stuff. But also knew the kids would want a place to play.
I just wish I knew the names of the teens who called the Ace Hardware so they could pass on the word that my live shot was inadvertently live for about four minutes without me knowing. It's ok they were laughing so hard the associate could barely understand them, I got a kick out of it too and appreciate the call.
There are deputies at traffic checkpoints who asked if we had eaten, gate security guards who cared enough to ask if we had gotten any sleep.
The folks of Samaritan's Purse have traveled here to help with whatever is needed forever long they're needed.
School principals and teachers are driving the routes of their poorest regions, making sure their kids are fed and feeding them when they aren't.
High school students aren't inside sitting around but working and sweating through hours of cleanup.
I know this is long but if you've gotten this far I want to say this: If you're one of those who's recently posted "I've lost all faith in humanity," please pay us a visit.
I think you'll find the most caring people. And right now we could use a few more.
Holly Bounds (above) with her WSAV-TV cameraman throughout the storm, Shawntez Herrington.
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