The Sumter Item
PUERTO RICO - Clarendon County resident Charles "Bucky" Mock has been aiding the residents of the small Caribbean island of Puerto Rico for several weeks after two hurricanes devastated the island, killing dozens of residents and leaving millions without power.
On Sept. 6, Hurricane Irma skirted the north side of the island, leaving one million without power, dozens dead and thousands homeless. Two weeks later, Hurricane Maria dealt the island a tremendous blow when near-Category 5 winds lashed the island, demolishing homes, creating mudslides in the mountainous areas and destroying businesses and resort areas.
"It's still bad," Mock said. "We're beginning to see some people who are just coming down from the mountains."
Mock said recent rains have made some areas of the island still susceptible to mudslides.
In Clarendon County, Mock wears a variety of hats. He's a forensically trained nurse, first responder, HAZMAT technician, Firefighter II, certified diver and a certified driving instructor. Since he's been in Puerto Rico, he's had to put several of those skills to use.
Mock was working with a South Carolina team. When they returned to the state, he moved over to a North Carolina team, and now he's moved on to a team from New York.
"I'm just happy I can help," Mock said. "We're all on this mission together."
Home for the time he's been in Puerto Rico has been a tent. He takes a bath at the local hospital. Meals are spent with other team members.
Helping the residents, many of whom are sleeping on the roofs of their homes to keep cool, has been a humbling experience, Mock added.
"A pickup full of food pulled up to the camp one day," Mock said. "It was loaded with traditional Puerto Rican. Our translator told us the meal was equivalent to our Christmas dinners. The gentleman brought enough food for our entire team. Now, these people have been left with nothing, and they're bringing us meals to thank us for helping them."
Mock said it's not unusual for a resident to drop by their camp with a fresh loaf of bread or a simple meal.
"It is so amazing how grateful they are," Mock said. "They want to give back, but for many of them they don't have anything to give."
Mock won't be coming back to Clarendon County anytime soon.
"I'll probably be here until sometime in November," he said. "If I'm needed, I'll stay. I'm here to help. That's what I do."