ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — When 14-year-old Zac Sharpe saw the devastation in South Carolina following torrential rainfall, he knew help would be needed.
“My aunt used to live in Columbia and I saw pictures she had posted on Facebook from some of her friends,” he said.
The junior firefighter with the East Rockingham Fire Department was getting ready for school last Monday when he said, “Why don’t we help?”
His mother, Kim Sharpe called Richmond County Emergency Services Director Donna Wright, who sent out an email to all local fire and rescue chiefs.
Later that night, Zac posted a call for collections on his Facebook wall.
“And it pretty much went from there,” he said. “It just got shared all the way around.”
DELUGE OF DONATIONS
His mother said she got a call from Jackie Tubberville, accounts payable clerk with the city of Rockingham, who “let me know the city employees were going to donate money to buy supplies.”
Tubberville, along with Loriann Allen, went out and bought donation items and dropped them off at the Rockingham Fire Department.
“As soon as we sent the word out…it was on,” Kim Sharpe said. “(Donations were) coming from everywhere.”
Sharpe said one of her high school classmates, who now lives in Fayetteville, sent in two truckloads of diapers, clothes and 100 cases of water.
One local manufacturer, von Drehle Corp., donated a pallet of water and 40 boxes of toilet paper and paper towels after donations were initiated by employees Bucky Felkel and Craig Steen.
By Friday afternoon, there were three pickup truckloads of supplies at the Rockingham Fire Department, in addition to the donations at the Sharpes’ home.
Zac said Saturday was “more of a slow day,” with one woman bringing in two trash bags of clothes and a comforter. Some people had given money to ERFD fireman Rex Boone, who was able to purchase 13 additional cases of water.
“We were shocked (by) the load that we had in that short amount of time,” Kim Sharpe said.
LOADED UP AND TRUCKIN’
While trying to find transportation for the donations, Kim Sharpe called numerous places in South Carolina — including the Salvation Army. On Friday, she got a call from S.C. state Rep. Pat Henegan, D-Marlboro.
“She said, ‘I’ll get you a truck,’” Sharpe recalled, adding the legislator phoned her back 10 minutes later with a truck arranged.
The items that were dropped off at the RFD station were transported to the East Rockingham fire station on Airport Road.
Cordova firemen Brandon Bowers and Jeremy Chance brought the department’s 28-foot trailer to the East Rockingham station to be loaded up on Sunday. Once done, they moved on to the Sharpes’ home.
“Those boys did a lot of packin’ and unpackin’,” Sharpe said.
When all of the supplies were packed onto the trailer, the Sharpe family — including Zac’s father, also named Zac — drove to Bennettsville along with Bowers and Chance and ERFD’s Rex Boone and Bill Payne.
Kim Sharpe said the trailer had a blowout two miles past the state line, but Cordova Fire Chief Ray Webb came out and changed it. The crew continued on to Henegan’s home.
“I am thankful for that family and everything they’ve done,” Henegan said, adding that she couldn’t believe someone Zac’s age could care so much about the community. “That’s what I call a future leader.”
‘IT’S NOT OVER YET’
The first-term legislator, who also represents Chesterfield and Darlington counties, said she had different people from the community dropping off supplies at her home. She said Charles Lemon of the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office “was very gracious in bringing things down on his own dime.”
“They know I will make sure the supplies get to where they’re needed,” Henegan told the Daily Journal Tuesday while on her way back from seeing the damage in Kingstree.
She said Charles Lemon of the Marlboro County Sheriff’s Office “was very gracious in bringing things down on his own dime.”
Henegan said supplies were delivered to the Georgetown area and to Kingstree after her visit with her husband Ronald, Pastor Marc Phillips of Pine Grove Baptist Church in Chesterfield and Rep. Richie Yow, R-Chesterfield.
“He’s a Republican and I’m a Democrat, but we’re both from rural counties and we work together,” she said of Yow. “We realize that working together is the best thing. There’s a lot of need in the rural areas.”
She said some families in Williamsburg County have lost everything.
“The devastation is just…it’s just so sad,” she said. “The sadness is it’s not over yet.”
Henegan said some streets are still filled with water and families can’t get to their homes.
Although supplies are coming in, she said flood victims are still in need of canned goods with a pop-top, diapers, toilet paper and clothes, especially for children.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.