$400K Red Cross grant bolsters UMCSC Florence recovery work

By Dan O’Mara

The American Red Cross has donated more than $400,000 in support of the Hurricane Florence recovery efforts of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.

The $410,571 grant is the largest disaster recovery gift the South Carolina Conference has received for its Hurricane Florence recovery work, outside of the support it receives from the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

The grant will allow UMCSC Disaster Recovery to hire two more persons to work full time with families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by flooding in the wake of Hurricane Florence in 2018.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of the American Red Cross and its donors,” said Tim Whitten, the UMCSC’s disaster recovery director. “This grant will greatly enhance the capabilities of our recovery team as they respond to the needs of residents of South Carolina who were impacted by Hurricane Florence.

“A recovery of this size requires the whole community to be involved, and we look forward eagerly to working with the Red Cross to offer hope and support to those people who are still in the recovery process.”

With funding from the Red Cross grant, UMCSC Disaster Recovery will, over the next year:

Hire a fourth case manager, who will work with potential clients, assess their recovery needs, and act as an advocate to refer them to resources and funding partners.

Hire a second construction coordinator to organize and oversee repair projects on the homes of those families with whom UMCSC Disaster Recovery works.

Buy construction materials to put into the hands of volunteer work teams, who provide most of the labor alongside homeowners.

“We have appreciated the great work of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church in response to disasters,” said Sara Hicks-West, an American Red Cross Hurricane Florence community recovery executive. “We are excited to support them as they continue with needed case management, as well as home repair and rebuild work for those impacted by Hurricane Florence.

“We believe this work will make a difference in the lives of many South Carolinians, some of whom have been impacted too many times by disasters.”

In September 2018, Hurricane Florence brought record rains, caused widespread river flooding, shut down areas of Interstate 95, and flooded towns and communities across northeastern South Carolina. It caused more than $1.2 billion in damages.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency declared eight South Carolina counties as disaster areas. The South Carolina Conference is focusing its primary recovery efforts in Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Marion and Marlboro counties because there are few resources available in those areas to serve the people still dealing with unmet needs from the disaster.

The American Red Cross received generous support from the public in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence. With these funds, the Red Cross provides emergency relief and will continue to provide disaster relief and recovery, directly and through other organizations.

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