By Brian Sherman, The Island Eye News Managing Editor
It’s been 31 years since Hurricane Hugo rushed ashore along the Carolina coast, but the natural catastrophe was still fresh in the minds of Sullivan’s Island Fire Chief Anthony Stith and staff and volunteers who lived through the chaos and destruction caused by the huge and powerful storm.
That’s why officials of Sullivan’s Island had no problem helping out a small town in the Bahamas that suffered a similar fate.
After the town purchased a new pumper truck, the Fire Department decided the right thing to do would be to donate its retired truck to an agency in need of old but still serviceable firefighting equipment. After some research, with the help of State Sen. Sandy Senn, they determined that Treasure Cay Emergency Services could probably put Engine 1202 to good use. A parcel of land connected to Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, Treasure Cay was devasted by Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
At a meeting in June, The Sullivan’s Island Town Council voted to donate the equipment that had served the island for 22 years, and Senn and Town
Administrator Andy Benke arranged transportation to Treasure Cay. On Aug. 6, Engine 1202 left Sullivan’s Island for its new home.
According to a letter from Tom Wheeler, managing director of the Treasure Cay Emergency Services Organization, “… Treasure Cay was devastated by Hurricane Dorian and all equipment was badly compromised, limiting our ability to respond to any emergency. … We have reviewed the information on your apparatus and believe it to be in good condition and ideal for service in hard to get to areas of our community with very narrow streets.”
“When we were hit so hard by Hugo, we were graced with the kindness of strangers in a number of different ways,” Sullivan’s Island Mayor Pat O’Neil commented. “Whenever we have an opportunity to reciprocate, we like to do that when we can. In this case, the stars all lined up perfectly. Sen. Senn was very aware of the need down in the Bahamas, and we were happy we were able to do this little thing for those folks who are really having a hard time climbing back.”