Shep Rose was crushed to see his hometown of Hilton Head Island torn to pieces this week.
Like thousands of other islanders who call Hilton Head home, the destruction of Hurricane Matthew was personal to Rose. The “Southern Charm” star spent a greater portion of his life on Hilton Head and has memories attached to every corner of the island.
“Like that pier in Harbour Town — I had my first kiss there; I have so many memories there. And it’s just gone,” Rose said. “I just can’t believe it.”
It didn’t take much time for Rose to return home after Hurricane Matthew thrashed Beaufort County on Oct. 8.
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Rose said he was inspired when his friend Aaron Siegel, who owns Home Team BBQ in Charleston, posted on Facebook earlier this week that he would be serving barbecue to hurricane victims on Hilton Head.
“I thought to myself, ‘That’s my hometown that I love. I need to be be there,’ ” Rose said.
So he left his Charleston home and headed south on Thursday. Rose said he was shocked to see the island in such devastation. Even after five days of cleanup efforts, Matthew’s wrath on Hilton Head was evident everywhere. He saw so many homes crushed by uprooted trees, marinas that seemed to be swallowed by the storm, debris scattered about neighborhoods, and armies of workers scrambling to help those in need.
“Where I live in Charleston didn’t get hit nearly as bad,” Rose said. “It was just wild seeing the island ripped up like that. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Rose said that, despite the damage, the spirit of Hilton Head seemed incredibly optimistic given the circumstances.
“The more I talked to people, the more I kept hearing people saying things like, ‘We’re going to rebuild and grow and be better because of this,’ ” Rose said. “It’s still a beautiful place and the best place in the world.”
Rose said he was able to see his best friend Andrew Carmines, owner of Hudson’s Seafood Dock and Marina, one of the many restaurants that took a serious beating from the storm, when he was in town.
“Andrew was running around like a chicken with his head cut off scrambling to help people, which, you know, is not surprising,” Rose said. “But when we talked, he looked at me and said, ‘We’re going to get back on our feet and do some great things here,’ and I believe it.”