ERT crews serve as hands and feet for three sites in Greenwood

By Jessica Brodie

GREENWOOD—While dramatic flood damage in Columbia and Charleston got the most news coverage, many other areas in South Carolina were also hard hit by the flood—including several parts of Greenwood County.

Disaster teams from the South Carolina United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Early Response Team deployed to Greenwood less than a week after the storm, armed with cleaning buckets and a can-do spirit to muck out homes and display Christian love to flood victims.

Three areas got initial priority: the Wilson Creek mobile home park, Fox Hollow townhomes and a home on Sample Road owned by a county employee with no flood insurance.

“We’re here to make the house safe and get things damaged out, to the point where they can be repaired,” explained Nathan Welch, Upstate coordinator for the ERT and the Greenville District disaster response coordinator.

Typically, Welch said, the ERT works on homes with no insurance, mucking out water and mud and preparing the site for a future UMVIM team that will do repairs.

St. Mark United Methodist Church, Greenwood, served as the host church for the ERT, providing food, lodging and local coordination.

The Rev. John Elmore Jr., St. Mark’s executive pastor, said that even though he wasn’t able to help with the physical work (non-ERT volunteers are not permitted to do so for safety reasons), he said he was humbled to see the church in action helping his fellow community members.

“I’m getting to watch the church as a whole be what it’s called to be,” Elmore said. “It is so important to see our Methodist brethren being what God’s called us to be right here.”

Chris Watts, St. Mark’s evangelism and outreach pastor, said seeing the ERT in action made him truly appreciate Christian community and unity.

“No one can do it all, but together, we can all do it if we come together,” Watts said.

Homeowner Chris Myers is one of the people helped by the ERT. An employee of Greenwood County Lake Management, his house is situated next to a small creek, and they saw the flood coming. He, his wife and their two young children were able to evacuate, and they even put up plastic barriers and sandbags around the house, but it was no match for the onslaught of water. Another, separate creek up the road from them came over the road and straight down their driveway late Saturday night, bursting through their garage door and flooding their house.

Myers, a member of the nearby Laurel Baptist Church, said he is so grateful to his Methodist brothers and sisters for coming to help. Crews spent three days removing contents from the house and assessing the depth of the damage.

“We didn’t have flood insurance, and I told my little boy, Christian, that we’re probably going to get flooded, and that we’re just going to have to trust God,” Myers said. “As a daddy, I was freaking out, but it’s been a Bible lesson for my whole family. The church has been great, and God really works in all people at all times.”

For more on the ERT, and to find out how to become trained to help with early response after a disaster, contact ERT Coordinator Billy Robinson at [email protected] or 803-539-8429.

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