Since 1967, a building beside the Intracoastal Waterway in Socastee has provided a place for veterans of American Legion Post 40 to meet.
But that building, like many others near rivers or waterways, was no match for Hurricane Matthew’s winds or the flooding that continued long after the storm had passed last October.
A few days later, members Bill Shoe and Bo Turbeville rode in a john boat with a trolling motor – down streets covered in four to six feet of water – to check on the building. What they saw made them feel caught in a different place and time. “It was like being caught in a combat zone,” said Shoe, who is Post Adjutant.
“Everything around was down,” he said. “Trees upended. Our flag outside floating. Our flag inside down. Our floating dock had floated into the front (yard).”
Later, when Post Commander Tom Long saw the area, he was disheartened. “It’s sad. It looked so nice, and then all of a sudden it looked like that,” he said on Feb. 11, a day when work was being done and recovery finally seemed possible. “If it wasn’t for Home Depot, we probably wouldn’t ever build back,” he said.
Horry County is “unbeatable” when it comes to caring about its veterans, Shoe said, adding that a lot of help came from the community, including a large discount from Service Pro to dry the building out and get rid of the mold and mildew.
Even then, the cost and the work involved to get the building back to normal was too much. The water had risen to about 18 inches inside the building, ruining floors, walls, insulation, cabinets and much more.
The post applied for a grant through Home Depot Store 1116 off Seaboard Street in Myrtle Beach, and the grant was approved at the corporate office in Atlanta.
With grants of about $10,700 providing much-needed materials and employees at that store volunteering to help, the veterans of Post 40 will soon have their meeting place back.
Jim Everman, community captain at Home Depot 1116, said all the stores participate in Home Depot programs that help veterans and other non-profit community organizations. In the past few years, Home Depot – billed as the world’s largest home improvement retailer – has given about 113 million dollars back to communities through these programs, he said.
Rich Black, garden associate, said he volunteered to help the veterans make repairs because it was the right thing to do.
“I love doing this stuff, giving back to the community,” said paint department manager Mandy Hicks, as she sat on the floor laying new flooring.
Karen Kippert, secretary of Post 40 Auxiliary, said the auxiliary members have missed meeting and sometimes have picnics at the post site by the waterway. But they appreciate Socastee Station for allowing them to meet there. The veterans have been meeting at the Socastee Library.
This is twice that Home Depot has helped Post 40, but the damage was much worse this time. The first was in 2015, when flood waters caused some damage.
American Legion Post 40 started in 1936. It was located on Legion Street in Myrtle Beach for over 30 years before the land on the Intracoastal Waterway was purchased and the present building was constructed.