By Jessica Brodie
MARION—Sixteen months after Hurricane Florence battered the coastal Carolinas, devastating homes and towns alike, more than 50 United Methodists gathered for a weekend designed to rebuild and repair homes in the McColl, Lakeview, Dillon, Latta and Mullins communities of South Carolina.
The service project was held over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Jan. 18-20, both as an opportunity to give volunteers a long weekend to help, as well as to honor the legacy of King, one of the civil rights movement’s greatest heroes and servant-leaders.
“The weekend was a spirit-filled event that made a difference to a lot of families who are still recovering in our conference,” said Tim Whitten, conference disaster recovery director. “We are quickly nearing the halfway point of our Hurricane Florence recovery, and I am grateful for each person who has shown up so far to participate.
“Rolling your sleeves up and committing yourself to making someone else’s life better is what the church’s mission is all about. This weekend exemplified that perfectly.”
Whitten said 55 volunteers worked on eight homes during the MLK weekend. First United Methodist Church, Marion, served as the check-in site each day.
While there were community volunteers from the United Way and Red Cross, Whitten said the majority of volunteers came from churches within the South Carolina Conference of the UMC.
Work included everything from drywall and flooring repairs to painting and trim work.
Hurricane Florence hit South Carolina in September 2018, causing a swath of devastating flooding from the Pee Dee to the beach. Weeks later, on Oct. 11, Hurricane Michael swept up the Gulf Coast and hit South Carolina as a tropical storm, compounding the damage.
The MLK service weekend was the second time the conference has gathered as a group to help rebuild after the damage caused by Hurricane Florence. On Sept. 21, more than 100 people gathered for a conference-wide Disaster Recovery Day of Service at St. Paul UMC, Chesterfield, to work on 12 sites across the Pee Dee.
Whitten said disaster recovery is currently scheduling two- to five-day work teams for summer and fall. To learn more or become part of a team, contact Emily Kirby at firstname.lastname@example.org.