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Close call: S.C. poised to help Florida after Hurricane Ian

By Jessica Brodie

Many in South Carolina are counting themselves blessed after a near-miss with a deadly storm last month.

Hurricane Ian was a powerful Category 4 hurricane when it slammed the southwestern coast of Florida Sept. 28, then swept north, making landfall in South Carolina south of Georgetown as a far-weakened Category 1 storm Friday afternoon, Sept. 30.

Ian ripped apart piers, downed trees and flooded streets on South Carolina’s coast, causing damage to a number of homes and businesses, but disaster response leaders are calling it all “relatively minor” compared to hits from previous hurricanes.

“Compared to previous hurricanes, we got very lucky and received only minor damage,” said Matt Brodie, disaster response coordinator for the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. “We had a few smaller Early Response Team projects, but for the most part, things were able to be handled by the communities and the homeowners fairly quickly. However, we are still anticipating we will find individuals or small pockets who need help over the next month or so as people start to search for outside help and seek other resources.”

Early Response Team Coordinator Billy Robinson said 25 ERT volunteers put in 252 volunteer hours using ERT trailers, tractors, chainsaws and tarping in the aftermath of the storm, working primarily in Holly Hill, Vance, Charleston, North Charleston, Summerville and McClellanville.

“We placed tarps on three homes, worked at 10 sites doing chainsaw and debris removal, used sump pumps to pump out a flooded basement at Holly Hill UMC and provided four homes with individual tarps to cover their belongings,” Robinson said.

In addition, conference volunteers on Oct. 1 delivered 280 cleaning buckets and hundreds of hygiene kits to churches in the Marion District, where much of Ian’s impact occurred.

Volunteers from Little River UMC, Little River, and St. Paul’s Waccamaw UMC, Pawleys Island, helped unload the relief supplies, which were distributed to people in nearby communities.

Now, ERT members and other disaster response volunteers are turning their sights on a response in Florida, where more than 100 people were killed by the storm. It is thought to be the deadliest hurricane to hit that state since 1935 and has caused billions of dollars in damage.

South Carolina ERT volunteers are planning at least two trips to help, one Nov. 7-11 and another Nov. 14-18, taking ERT trailers, skid steers and tractors and possibly staying in a church located between Port Charlotte and Fort Myers.

As for South Carolina, if you know of a community in need of assistance, including cleaning buckets or help with downed trees or damaged roofs, contact UMCSC Disaster Response at 803-200-2082 or disasterresponse@umcsc.org.

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