By Billy Robinson
South Carolina’s Early Response Team continues to respond to the continuous desperate request for help along much of the Gulf Coast after hurricanes Laura, Sally and Delta.
Our first ERT response was by a five-person team to Mobile and Dauphin Island, Alabama, in the week following Hurricane Sally. This was followed up the next week by two additional South Carolina ERT teams to the same region consisting of 13 volunteers and two disaster response trailers.
The second week’s response included a lot of very dangerous storm-damaged trees that needed to be removed from structures and yards since they posed very serious hazards to the homes and property owners. God’s vision and powerful hand guided and kept all of us safe, giving us the proper equipment and knowledge to safely handle all of the challenging disaster responses, which also included placing tarps on three homes and one shed; shingling a portion of one church roof and two separate churches sheds; repairing one tin roof; placing tar and caulking on one mobile home; then completing 10 big chainsaw jobs.
There were many sad stories and dire cries for help as many people did not have the funds nor means to remove the big fallen trees or patch their leaking roofs. One man had suffered a stroke and was desperately trying to cut away portions of a huge tree with a small saw to make access to his shed and property.
Another lady, who is a member of a local United Methodist church, had sustained major damage to her property from fallen trees including big limbs on and over her home and a big tree dangerously positioned over an outbuilding blocking access to her yard. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sally’s devastation, her son was killed in a wreck near Myrtle Beach, and she went to help coordinate and attend his funeral. When she returned home on our last day there, she found someone had looted much of her belongings. We were able to help her in the evening of our last day and were joined by several of her church members and the pastor. All glory goes to God, as we were able to be used by Him to successfully accomplish these tasks and, most importantly, show the love and care of Jesus to all hurting, hopeless and stressed out people we came into contact with.
We offer thanks for all the prayers and support of our South Carolina Conference and members who always support and back us in these critical missions.
The bishop, district superintendent and other church leaders from the Alabama-West Florida Conference requested our help with putting on chainsaw safety classes for them and also providing them with information while showing them our trailers and equipment so they may also establish ERT teams in their conference. Several of us provided two such classes in the late afternoons after two work days in the Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, areas.
The majority of the true ERT work seems to be completed in the Alabama area near Mobile, but help is still needed in the Pensacola, Florida, area. We may be sending additional South Carolina ERTs to them or other areas if requested.
Robinson is SC UMVIM ERT coordinator.
By Billy Robinson