By Billy Robinson
On Jan. 24, 2017 two South Carolina United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Early Response Teams responded to Barnwell County near the town of Blackville in the aftermath of an EF-2 tornado Jan. 21.
The tornado devastated several dozen homes and a lot of woodlands, including a state park.
The teams worked from early morning to twilight in disaster zones, placing tarps on three damaged roofs and doing three chainsaw jobs, two of which included removing hazardous trees from homes making them safe for occupants to remain in. Most occupants were completely caught off guard by the devastating tornado that left several injured and most without power for days while some homes were completely destroyed.
Most team members were seasoned ERT responders who have been on countless ERT missions all across the Southeast, including the recent Nichols and Sellers blitzes. Each reflected on how humbling it is to serve people in their dire times of need and what an honor and privilege it is to be used by God in such wonderful ways.
There were also the countless blessings that God bestows upon us all when we come together in camaraderie as the true family/church of Jesus to do His good will. They are beautiful blessings, such as the simplistic and gracious thanks of survivors and the wonderful fulfilment that comes through serving God as His hands and feet to people during their times of need.
Responding were the Rev. Fred Buchanan, Suzanne Lott, George Burckhalter, the Rev. Frank Copeland, George Branham, Felix and Misty Vazquez, Kevin Douglas and me.
Buchanan is returning to do further damage assessments throughout the area to see if there are more needs. If so, a follow-up team of two will respond.
Robinson is South Carolina UMVIM ERT coordinator.