Terry Rawls

Terry Rawls cutting with chainsaw while Misty Vazquez removes debris to gain access to home. 

BILLY ROBINSON/T&D CORRESPONDENT

S.C. United Methodist Volunteers In Mission’s Early Response Team began preparations for Hurricane Irma well in advance, along with the organization's Disaster Response Committee. Conference calls kept everyone abreast, and warnings and other vital information were sent out to all S.C. UMC personnel.

After the storm, the committee immediately started assessing the situations, and ERTs went into action across the state. We have more than 300 ERT certified volunteers and seven disaster response trailers across the state. We were by the grace of Almighty God spared a large-scale disaster like those we've had in the past two years including Hurricane Matthews and the 2015 floods.

ERT response was limited as the number of damaged homes were much less than expected from Irma, considering the strong tropical force winds and some flooding that impacted our area.

We get requests through various means including county emergency managers, disaster response coordinators, local churches, the 211 Information hotline, in conjunction with Crisis Clean Up, which is a system the S.C. Emergency Management Division and S.C. Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster operate out of.

We have responded to various calls throughout the state and expect more in the coming weeks, and several of our ERTs plan to respond to Florida and other states as needed as soon as we receive official requests.

One ERT response to Hurricane Irma found us at a destroyed mobile home at 305 Partridge Lane in North on Sept. 14. The occupant of the home had thankfully sought shelter away from her home when a huge oak tree came crashing onto it and through the den, demolishing the home. Her access to the home and all her belongings were cut off by the debris and unsafe conditions. She was worried that further storms would ruin everything she had left.

We cut egress routes to the home, retrieved her belongings, including furniture and appliances, and relocated them to a warehouse in town for safe keeping. We also provided her with spiritual care, including prayer.

We have several ERT trainings coming up in the Midlands and the Upstate. Those interested in the training are asked to email brpraisejesus@aol.com.

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