By Jessica Brodie
Two months, two hurricanes—and now, with help from the United Methodist connection, the people of South Carolina are on the rebound.
As the Advocate was going to press in September, Hurricane Florence had just barreled down on the coastal Carolinas. In its aftermath, rivers crested and dams overflowed, causing widespread and devastating flooding in different communities of the Pee Dee region from Cheraw to Georgetown as the deluge raced to the sea.
On its heels came Hurricane Michael, sweeping up from the Gulf Coast and impacting South Carolina as a tropical storm Oct. 11.
While South Carolina was blessed to have “dodged a bullet” in Michael, said Matt Brodie, conference disaster response coordinator, the combination of the two storms was brutal for a large part of the state. Some of worst areas were in Dillon County and Horry County, as well as Marlboro County, Brodie said.
And now, conference disaster response workers are doing all they can to help their neighbors get back on their feet.
“A lot of the hardest hit areas were very poor, rural areas that don’t have a lot of resources,” Brodie said.
These areas are where The United Methodist Church is focusing its greatest attention, he said.
While Horry County got hit hard and had the highest number of Federal Emergency Management Agency applications for help, Brodie said, “So many outside agencies came into Horry County, to Georgetown and Conway, but very few went into outlying areas like Marion, Dillon and Marlboro.
“We are trying to focus on who we believe are the most vulnerable.”
Marion District Superintendent the Rev. Tim Rogers said, “Our hearts are broken for the people and churches that have been deeply damaged by Hurricane Florence. But we are truly grateful for all of those who have helped respond to the needs all across the Marion District. From the local churches making meals to church members delivering flood buckets to neighbors helping neighbors to volunteers coming from miles away, the response of fellow Christians has been a source of healing and hope.
“As long as there are people in need, we will try to respond.”
Dozens of South Carolina United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Early Response Teams, as well as volunteer teams from out of state, have responded throughout the affected area, mucking out, tarping roofs and delivering hurricane-relief buckets.
To date, the UMC has delivered around 8,000 United Methodist Committee on Relief cleaning buckets.
Brodie said the relief phase is now slowing down, and soon disaster responders will focus on recovery, such as long-term rebuilds and getting people back in their homes.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Brodie said. “We’re still actively involved in the relief phase, and we will continue to be involved throughout the recovery phase.”
The buckets were delivered in various ways: through the Salvation Army, through the state to be distributed during the Governor’s Team South Carolina days that happened around the Pee Dee region, and direct delivery via three tractor-trailer loads—one to Marion and two to Conway—to warehouses where churches could pick up the buckets and give them out in the community.
Do you want to help?
If you are age 18 or older and would like to help do relief or recovery work, fill out the form at www.umcsc.org/home/ministries/disaster-response/hurricane-florence-response-registration. You will be placed with a trained ERT member who will lead the effort.
If you would like to be trained to serve on the ERT, consider attending upcoming trainings in November (see below).
Financial donations are also being accepted for disaster response and will be used in South Carolina. Donate online at www.umcsc.org/data/disasterresponsedonation.php.
Want to be trained as an ERT member?
- Nov. 10— ERT Basic and Renewal Class, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Magnolia Restaurant, 2605 Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach. Cost $40 (includes manual, shirt, cap and badge). Renewals cost $10. To register: Rev. William “Buddy” Phillips at 843-315-4300.
- Nov. 17—ERT Basic and Renewal Class, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Mauldin UMC, Mauldin. Cost $40 (includes manual, shirt, cap and badge). Renewals cost $10. To register: Mark Springer at 864-367-8047.