Local News

NC groups help with SC flood recovery

Posted October 7, 2015 6:24 p.m. EDT

— As evacuation orders remain in place in some communities near the South Carolina coast that are in the path of rising rivers, recovery efforts are ramping up in Columbia, where catastrophic floods ravaged the city over the weekend.

Columbia residents are beginning to return home, and many are finding extensive damage and devastation. So, Samaritan's Purse, the American Red Cross, the North Carolina National Guard and other groups have set up distribution centers where volunteers can hand out food, water and other items to people in need.

Frederick Gordon was among the steady stream of people who visited the distribution centers on Wednesday. He said floodwaters have kept him from working since last Friday, and he was out of food and water at home.

"Now it's time for the community to come together," Gordon said.

Columbia is still under a boil water advisory, thousands are without electricity and scores of roads remain impassible because they are washed out or blocked by fallen trees.

Boone-based Samaritan's Purse set up shop at a Baptist church in east Columbia, where disaster program manager Bruce Poss expects volunteers from across the country to converge in the coming days to assist with recovery and relief efforts.

"Every morning, we'll have volunteers come here, give them a brief orientation, then divide them up in teams and send them out in the community to help homeowners," Poss said.

The volunteers will likely help clean up and repair hundreds of homes in the area, he said.

"People want to put their hand to the plow and want to do what they can to help their neighbors," he said. "If they're not impacted, they want to help somebody else."

A tractor-trailer filled with home repair supplies arrived at the church Wednesday to get the effort started.

"(We've got) to get any belongings out of their homes and begin what we call 'mud out' – taking out the Sheetrock and helping their homes to dry out," Poss said.

Poss said he and chaplains with the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Rapid Response Team will be headquartered in the church parking lot for least a month, offering both physical and emotional support to those who need all of the help they can get.

"Love your neighbor as yourself. This could be us but for the grace of God. It could be happening to me or to you," said Leo Grabowski, chaplain coordinator for the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. "What happens now is we have to get out there, put our boots on and provide what we have."