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Congressman Rice tours Nichols, surveys hope

(Taggart Houck/WPDE)

Hurricane Matthew destroyed homes, businesses, and, for a short time, a way of life for some in our area.

Perhaps no area suffered from the hurricane more than Nichols.

Fourteen months later, people are still hoping for a return to life before the storm -- particularly homeowners.

Related: One year after Hurricane Matthew, Nichols residents still hopeful town will rebuild

"For most people their home is maybe he central factor in their lives, it's certainly their largest asset," said U.S. Rep. Tom Rice.

Rice and officials from the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office toured Nichols on Friday. But it wasn't about surveying damage. This time was about surveying what's been re-built.

Rice was a key sponsor of a federal allocation of $95 million to victims in South Carolina. A good chunk of that goes to people in his district, Horry and Marion counties.

Related: House's $8 billion spending plan includes money for Matthew cleanup

He visited two houses. One of which is the longtime home of 91-year-old Gladys Gilchrist.

"Well this is the first time in my life in my 91 years....to have the congressman sitting right here beside me," said Gilchrist, grinning from ear-to-ear.

She's got lot of memories after 91 years. One that stands out is Hurricane Matthew, and how it left her homeless for nearly 4 months.

More than a foot of water made its way inside her family room and kitchen so she's needed a lot of help at home, like new flooring, wall panels and a roof.

"It's certainly heartwarming when you meet someone like Mrs. Gilchrist and you see the the relief on her face, and you hear the relief in her voice when she is finally back in her home, and it is now, maybe even better than it was before the storm," said Rice.

Gilchrist said she won't forget the visit.

Rice said he's happy to see what's been done.

So far, more than a dozen homes have been renovated in Horry and Marion counties. Officials said by the end of the project, that number should be anywhere from 600 to 800.

"We want to make sure that this limited pile of money goes to help the most people it can help," Rice said.

Officials said many homes can be gutted and renovated in just a few weeks.

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