We were only gone from home for a little over 24 hours, but I came back with a number of stories. This is the last one from our vaccine quest.
On our way home from Southport, we decided to stop for lunch in Whiteville, a town just off the main route. The Chef & The Frog, by the way, was excellent. On our way there we passed through the town of Fair Bluff. I had seen a billboard promoting their “Depot Museum” and wanted to stop. As we entered the town it was clear that the place was nearly deserted. The main street was almost completely devoid of shops. A former car dealership sat empty with parts of the building on the verge of collapse. Directly across the street was a building marked as being the Municipal Building, but it was boarded up and silent. Urns along the sidewalks contained plants that appeared to be reasonably well cared for, or as well as could be expected for late winter. Farther up the street a gas station was open, and a pizza shop showed signs of life.
So what happened here, I wondered? As it turns out, Wikipedia summarizes the events leading up to the situation we came across:
“In 1999, Fair Bluff experienced a 1-in-100 year flood event.
In 2012, the Police Chief of Fair Bluff Marty Lewis was arrested, tried and convicted for selling and delivering oxycodone and possession with the intent to sell and conspiracy to traffic while acting as police chief. He was sentenced to a minimum of seven years in prison and fined $100,000. On April 9, 2015 Marty Lewis filled an appeal of his case. On November 3, 2015 the verdict was unanimously affirmed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, leaving in place the 90 to 117 month prison sentence originally imposed. Lewis will not be eligible for parole before November 2022.
In 2016, the town was devastated by flooding on the Lumber River caused by Hurricane Matthew, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of residents. As of June 2018 the rebuilding effort was still underway but several hundred residents who had fled rising floodwaters never returned and a number of businesses remained shuttered.
In September 2018 Fair Bluff was flooded again by the impact of Hurricane Florence, again forcing evacuations and leaving the downtown area under water again, and devastating the town for the third time in under 20 years. After Florence, many buildings in the downtown area of the town lay abandoned, with no plans to reoccupy or fix the buildings.
The population was 951 at the 2010 census but is believed to be lower following the two disasters, some estimates going as low as 450 people.”
That pretty much explains it – a town with a troubled past and cloudy future. But they do have a very nice train station.