The Daufuskie 100: Daufuskie Island residents organize to survive Matthew, recover
Author: Special to CH2
The “Daufuskie 100,” a group of Daufuskie Island residents, has organized an unprecedented clean-up effort on the bridgeless South Carolina island after Hurricane Matthew, led by private citizens using private equipment. The citizens’ brigade has a remarkable spirit; responsible for a recovery that is being recognized by state and national officials.
Daufuskie Island is a barrier island one nautical mile from Hilton Head Island. As Hurricane Matthew headed toward the Southeastern coast on October 7, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley made a final plea to residents. The small 10-square-mile island of Daufuskie was thrust into the national spotlight when Haley cited 100 residents that would be “underwater” if they stayed. The Daufuskie 100 banded together and took a calculated risk. They felt that Daufuskie was “at the end of the line,” and that residents would be helpless for many weeks if government resources focused on mainland communities first.
Together, the Daufuskie 100 devised a recovery plan, gathered essential supplies, and coordinated a communications system to make sure everyone was accounted for after the storm. They took to high ground in the community’s safest structures, some as high as 38 feet above sea level on what local residents term “Mount Daufuskie.” After weathering nine-plus hours of Hurricane Matthew’s highest winds, they emerged with no injuries. The same couldn’t be said for the island’s beautiful natural environment.
It is estimated over 1,000 trees fell, including massive oaks and pines, many taking out power lines and blocking vital roads. The Daufuskie 100 immediately started clearing a path for emergency responders and uncovering homes that had been littered with trees.
They set up a make-shift emergency response center and established cell phone communications until the Daufuskie Island Fire Department (DIFD) arrived.
Led by Fire Chief Edward Boys, a group comprised of emergency responders and residents devised a recovery plan. Members and staff of the island’s largest private community, Haig Point, met each morning to coordinate their clean-up. Teams of workers headed out with chainsaws and heavy equipment to cut and remove trees. Breakfast and lunch were supplied by community members.
Many of the Daufuskie 100 have spent their own money to assist in the cleanup. Others have gone house to house, removing trees for their neighbors. Because the island is only accessible via ferry, the resources and equipment have been limited.
The Daufuskie Island Community Foundation, a 501©(3) organization, led by Pastor Aaron Crosby, has established a GoFundMe.com campaign that raised over $40,000 in the first three days—such a worthy cause that U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford pledged to donate $1,000. Sanford visited Daufuskie four days after the storm and said, “It’s a level of destruction that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the district.”
Residents of Daufuskie Island are in need of help. They have been assured government assistance is on its way, but national attention is necessary to help accelerate the efforts.
To make a contribution to the Daufuskie disaster fund, visit gofundme.com/2qftchek. All money goes to the Daufuskie Island Community Foundation.