DISASTERS

Hurricane Matthew brought town's demise, needs a 'miracle'

  • Wendy Gable, with Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief, throws wood onto a pile that was removed from a home that was heavily damaged by floodwaters caused by rain from Hurricane Matthew in Nichols, S.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016.  Nearly a month since floodwaters consumed the town, few have returned. The fear is that many never will. A stew of contaminants stood inches to feet deep in homes for a week. As it receded, toxic black mold grew rampant, leaving nearly all of the town’s 261 homes uninhabitable. Few, if any, had flood insurance. (AP Photo/Mike Spencer)

    Wendy Gable, with Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief, throws wood onto a pile that was removed from a home that was heavily damaged by floodwaters caused by rain from Hurricane Matthew in Nichols, S.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. Nearly a month since floodwaters consumed the town, few have returned. The fear is that many never will. A stew of contaminants stood inches to feet deep in homes for a week. As it receded, toxic black mold grew rampant, leaving nearly all of the town’s 261 homes uninhabitable. Few, if any, had flood insurance. (AP Photo/Mike Spencer)  (The Associated Press)

  • Herman Waters, 48, wears a protective suit while helping clean out a family members home that was heavily damaged by floodwaters caused by rain from Hurricane Matthew in Nichols, S.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016.  Nearly a month since floodwaters consumed the town, few have returned. The fear is that many never will. A stew of contaminants stood inches to feet deep in homes for a week. As it receded, toxic black mold grew rampant, leaving nearly all of the town’s 261 homes uninhabitable. Few, if any, had flood insurance. (AP Photo/Mike Spencer)

    Herman Waters, 48, wears a protective suit while helping clean out a family members home that was heavily damaged by floodwaters caused by rain from Hurricane Matthew in Nichols, S.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. Nearly a month since floodwaters consumed the town, few have returned. The fear is that many never will. A stew of contaminants stood inches to feet deep in homes for a week. As it receded, toxic black mold grew rampant, leaving nearly all of the town’s 261 homes uninhabitable. Few, if any, had flood insurance. (AP Photo/Mike Spencer)  (The Associated Press)

  • Brent Davis helps clean out a home that was heavily damaged by floodwaters caused by rain from Hurricane Matthew in Nichols, S.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016.  Nearly a month since floodwaters consumed the town, few have returned. The fear is that many never will. A stew of contaminants stood inches to feet deep in homes for a week. As it receded, toxic black mold grew rampant, leaving nearly all of the town’s 261 homes uninhabitable. Few, if any, had flood insurance. (AP Photo/Mike Spencer)

    Brent Davis helps clean out a home that was heavily damaged by floodwaters caused by rain from Hurricane Matthew in Nichols, S.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. Nearly a month since floodwaters consumed the town, few have returned. The fear is that many never will. A stew of contaminants stood inches to feet deep in homes for a week. As it receded, toxic black mold grew rampant, leaving nearly all of the town’s 261 homes uninhabitable. Few, if any, had flood insurance. (AP Photo/Mike Spencer)  (The Associated Press)

Nearly a month since floodwaters consumed this Mayberry-like hamlet in rural South Carolina, few have returned. The fear is that many never will.

Nichols wasn't directly hit by Hurricane Matthew, but its location between two converging rivers caused it to fill up like a bathtub a day later.

A stew of water, fuel, fertilizer and sewage settled in homes for over a week. As the water receded, black mold grew rampant, leaving nearly all of the town's 261 homes uninhabitable.

Six churches and all 22 businesses also flooded.

Few residents, if any, had flood insurance. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering pittance.

Mayor Lawson Battle says most of the town's 400 residents are retired or disabled, and they can't afford to take out the low-interest loans FEMA offers.