By Chuck Marshall
After Hurricane Ida, Louisiana Conference Disaster Coordinators requested help. Almost immediately, two South Carolina disaster early response teams responded from Orangeburg and Greenwood, along with ERTs from other areas, such as Anderson and Clemson.
ERT Core leaders decided, with the short notice, to hold back a third team from Spartanburg for a follow-up call-out in two weeks.
On Oct. 2, that third team sprang into action. I, as Spartanburg District disaster coordinator, and Phil Griswold, as the assistant disaster coordinator, led a team of eight ERTs with two trucks and one ERT trailer from New Beginnings United Methodist Church, Boiling Springs, to Metairie, Louisiana.
We were hosted by the St. Mathews UMC in Metairie.
The first day, we arrived at approximately 10 p.m. and were met by two members of the congregation who had been assigned to us by their pastor, the Rev. Tim Barnes. They helped us get unloaded and set up for our stay.
The next morning, Sunday, Oct. 3, we were invited to services at 9 a.m. at St. Mathews UMC. We were greeted and welcomed by all the congregation.
Our plan following services was to get rested, oriented to the area and possibly do some “windshield assessments” of the needs. This was not to be, for Barnes handed me a stack of addresses his ERTs had already assessed. All were in the general area of the church and most were congregation members.
By Sunday evening we had completed five help requests, including removing large tree limbs from roofs and clearing debris from yards.
During the remaining days in Louisiana, we cleared 12 help requests around Metairie, south across the Mississippi River to Luling and north across the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge (24 miles) to Mandeville. We met many people from the area who appreciated our help and knowing that South Carolina had cared enough to send us from so far away.
There were many great stories of recovery and some sad stories. All eight of our team members worked hard, as a team should. Everyone worked from early morning until the evening in hot, humid weather. The pastor and congregation from St. Mathews UMC worked hard, too, and sacrificed much to support us.
We arrived back in South Carolina on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 11:30 p.m., exhausted but feeling the presence of our Lord.
As always, we had the distinct feeling we returned from a call-out with more than we had left with.
New Beginnings UMC and its members provided much support for the team, as did Anytime Fitness in Boiling Springs, which held a fundraiser for our mission. The congregation at New Beginnings also sent cakes and pastries with the team (note: no pastries sent made it back home).
More than anything else, we offer thanks to the Lord for guiding us and watching over us along the way.
Team members included myself, Chuck Marshall, along with Phil Griswold, John Gemmell, Dan Gemmell, Lee McDow, Melissa McDow, Cherlynn Hewitt and the Rev. Jimmy Dillard.