After storm hits Camden, ERT disaster responders head to help

By Billy Robinson

Hot temperatures and physically exhausting conditions could not hamper the God-inspired enthusiasm and willingness of eight disaster responders who headed to Camden after a storm caused some downed trees.

On July 9, South Carolina’s United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Early Response Team responded to the Camden area, where a recent storm had left a damaged tree on a community center that was recently the Baron DeKalb Elementary School.

There were also three other trees that presented a danger to the facility and needed to be cut down. In addition, there were three pine trees laying across a fence line in the rear of the property.

The eight-man ERT crew comprised volunteers from within a 200-mile range.

The project was headed up by the Rev. James Smith and others, including his wife, the Rev. Millie Smith, who is the South Carolina Director of Connectional Ministries for the conference.

They are in the process of repurposing the school as a community and outreach center.

The ERT team jumped into its disaster response role and began by using a winch and chainsaws to pull away the big tree that was dangerously resting on an array of windows, plus the side and top of the facility. Extreme caution had to be taken to prevent further damage. With a surgeon’s precision, the damaged tree was removed, and the facility was spared any further damage. Three other trees posing a future danger were then taken down and the fence line cleared of downed trees and temporarily repaired.

The team encouraged each other in the heat and hard work to complete the mission so the facility could be used for a wide variety of future missions.

ERT training classes will resume across the state this fall, and volunteers are needed who are willing to do everything from running a chainsaw, to carting limbs, running equipment such as skid steers, pulling trailers, providing necessities such as water and rehabilitation to maintenance and demonstrating a caring Christian presence to everyone. These loving, caring, exciting and fulfilling ERT missions are in need of volunteers and financial aid.

To sign up for a class and volunteer, email [email protected].

Upcoming trainings will be listed in next month’s Advocate.

Robinson is South Carolina UMVIM ERT coordinator.

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