2009 Hurricane Season Begins…and I need your help

Hurricane Hugo McClellanvilleHurricane season is once again upon us and this year will mark the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo which devastated McClellanville on September 21st (and well into the 22nd) of 1989.  Amazingly there was no loss of life within the town, but the path of destruction was the worst left by a hurricane at it’s time and McClellanville was ground zero.   Anyone that lived here at the time knows that there are many reasons to not want to relive the agony and loss experienced. However, I’d like to propose that after 20 years  we are due for an “I Survived Hurricane Hugo” celebration and remembrance.
Hurricane Hugo PicturesI’ll be posting more about Hurricane Hugo and hurricane preparedness later, but to prepare for the coming anniversary I would like to gather pictures of the village after Hugo in order to prepare a slideshow.  Fallen trees, muddy floors and streets, damaged homes and boats, volunteers, National Guard, cleanup efforts, whatever you have that will add to the story.
If you have a scanner you can scan and email your photos to me.  Otherwise I will be scanning pictures.  You can submit them at our office and I will scan them and get them back to you as soon as possible.  Be sure to mark them with your information so nothing gets mixed and they are returned to the right place.  You can submit individual pictures or packages and I will sort through them and choose the best. Through this effort, we will be preserving these images forever.  If we get enough images I will even prepare a slideshow presentation for the town and make CD’s available.  All credit will be given to the original photographers, so please feel free to submit your best images.
Palmers Point Front Yard HugoWe have a whole new population in the village that didn’t live through this experience that forever reshaped the way we viewed life.  Many have seen scrapbooks from one person or another, but few know the whole story.  An event like this can pull us together as a stronger community as we share our past experiences.  As the eyes of the nation fall on us again I propose that we present an image fitting the way that we banded together after Hugo to repair the Village.
ARA's gym became a relief center over nightThere is no denying that it was a horrible experience.  A decade later, we still used “before Hugo” and “after Hugo” as the major time indicator.    I know some suffered enormous financial loss, but I dare say that McClellanville is a better place because of those tragedies because of what we learned about ourselves in the rebuilding process.  We learned the generosity of the human race as volunteers poured in to help a small town they had never heard of but saw only glimpses of on the news.  FEMA was probably less helpful than their dreadful performance in New Orleans after Katrina, but nobody gave up and begged for a handout.   We rebuilt.
If you ask most people you’ll find that the biggest tragedy wasn’t the shrimpboat in their front yard, 6 inches of mud in their house, or even their missing roof…it was that grandma’s quilt was missing or the ruined wedding album.  These are the things that we lost that we’ll never get back.  I was only 9 at the time of Hugo and couldn’t grasp that at the time (it was a big adventure for me, since there was no school for weeks and weeks and tons of new things to see) but I realize this now.
So dust off your scrap books and share your stories as we remember a part of our history that helped make us the town we are today…Who’s with me?
Update: These picture provided were used to create a gallery in my McClellanville: 20 Years after Hurricane Hugo posts
Shrimpboat picture courtesy of Mike Burton.

Could School Credits Save McClellanville?

With poor school performances rampant in Charleston County and the state as a whole, State Senator Robert Ford has finally decided that school tax credits for parents choosing to send their children to private schools could be the only solution to parents wanting the best possible option for their children’s future.  The bill, as reported on by The Post and Courier, would “provide children with a tuition tax credit worth $2,433 for most, $4,867 for students with special needs and $3,650 for those who attend a failing school”.  The P&C goes on to report that “Scholarships funded by charitable contributions also would be available for children whose parents earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line, which is $44,100 for a family of four. ”
archibald rutledge academyMcClellanville’s Archibald Rutledge Academy, where I attended from 4 year-old Kindergarten until graduation and would like to some day send my 2 year-old son, is one such school that could greatly benefit from such a bill.   A $2433 tax credit for a school with a $3500 tuition would be huge for local parents who are seeing less and less in their paychecks.  The bill would actually cover the entire tuition for children in poorer families, opening the educational possibilities to so many more children.  

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McClellanville Middle School Closes

McClellanville Middle School ClosingThe inevitable news that McClellanville Middle School will be closing to help Charleston County Schools try to trim their $28 million budget deficit was announced yesterday.  The vast rural district serving the residents of McClellanville and most of Awendaw may be labeled “District 1”, but many residents didn’t feel that they were number 1 in the hearts of Charleston County School Board.
As a parent I hope that the children going to any of the closing schools don’t experience any turmoil during their transition and that it doesn’t impact their education in a negative way.  As a local I can understand how upsetting it must be to see a school you’ve been committed to closing.  But as a tax payer I think that it just makes sense after looking at the numbers.

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More McClellanville Land is Protected by the Nature Conservancy

Once again The Nature Conservancy has preserved land surrounding McClellanville through purchase and conservation easement . Earlier this year an 812 acre tract of land just south of McClellanville was sold by the Nature Conservancy to Charleston County Parks. This land will be used as a public park with a few buildings but will remain protected through conservation easements. Through this process of buying land, establishing easements and reselling to public agencies and private individuals, the Nature Conservancy is protecting this area for future generations.
Mike Prevost at Conservancy Easement Dedication for the Village Museum Last week The Nature Conservancy released the notice of it’s purchase of 4 more tracts of land totaling 1,116 acres in the McClellanville area. This land was purchased from International Paper, who is a major holding company of land surrounding the National Forest using the lumber from the fast growing pines to produce pulp for paper production (say that 3 times fast). Two tracts lie just north of McClellanville on both sides of Highway 17 and the others west on Highway 45 (see the Charleston Business Journals Article for more information and map). The price tag for the 1,116 acres? $6,445,000 or $5,775 an acres…and no I can’t find you a deal like that for a single acre.
Old Brick Church in McClellanville, SC The Nature Conservancy has also recently worked with the Evening Post Publishing Company in placing a conservation easement on a 1,144 acre tract of land they own on Old Georgetown Road. This tract actually surrounds a separate 100 acre tract of land owned by the Village Museum which also allowed for a conservation easement placed by The Nature Conservancy earlier this year. The Evening Post and Village Museum land surrounds the St. James Santee Church (also known simply as "Old Brick Church " by locals) built in 1768. It is of monumental importance that historical character of the land surrounding this 18th century church has been preserved from future development.
McClellanville's Francis Marion National Forest We are already blessed to have the massive Francis Marion National Forest and Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge as our own personal backyards, but these additional lands ensure further natural habitat and protect against future development in the area. The coastline surrounding McClellanville serves as an essential breeding and nesting area for endangered birds and turtles who are losing more and more habitat every year. The forest tracts serve as wildlife habitat to other birds and ducks including the swallow-tail kite. As the Charleston area grows and Mount Pleasant seems to creep closer with each passing day and Awendaw acts only sporadically to slow development, it is imperative that organizations like The Nature Conservancy are encouraged to do the work that they do. To date, The Nature Conservancy has protected almost 50,000 acres of land in the Seewee to Santee region, so the next time you see our own Mike Prevost at his office on Pinckney Street, tell him thank you…for you and your grandchildren.