The hardest hit portions of South Carolina are mostly still not accessible with flood waters still rising in most of these areas.

Many bridges and roads are compromised or washed out, making any travel and assessments extremely frustrating. We are getting pockets of work mainly in the counties that were not hit so hard as water is receding in them

We have received many inquiries from United Methodist Volunteers in Missions Emergency Response Teams across our state as well as from out of state wanting to come and help, and we are very grateful to all of them. We are establishing churches near the disaster areas that are willing to house ERT teams.

We are in constant contact with county emergency management personnel. As soon as we get the go-ahead along with assessments completed, we will be sending in S.C. ERT teams followed by out-of-state ERT teams. Both of these could happen as early as this week.

We continue to handle the requests with S.C. ERT teams for the time being but anticipate a big need for ERT teams from other states within a week or so.

On Oct. 6, ERT teams responded to a couple of areas in the state, one of which was Holly Hill for two damaged roofs and a flooded family restaurant. A restaurant is something we had not helped out in our 10 years of response throughout the Southeast, but this one was unique.

Two pastors and city personnel referred us to the family-owned business that had flooded from flood waters and through leaks in the ceiling. This restaurant is vital to the community as a food resource and the business had no flood insurance. We learned that it is also a well-known Christian ministry that is constantly providing meals to those who cannot afford them. They charge only whatever the people can pay toward the meal.

On three occasions, two pastors and I had gone to Holly Hill doing assessment and trying to make contact with city officials, but it seemed the devil was hampering our efforts. At the last minute on the morning of Oct. 6, we decided to take a team to Holly Hill, knowing there was damage there and feeling God’s calling to go.

Before leaving, the Rev. Fred Buchanan, who had visited Holly Hill and given his card to a policeman and the mayor, gave me a call with the address of Shirley Abraham’s business, the County Corner Diner, located in downtown Holly Hill. I stated we usually do not help businesses unless there are no other needs. Buchanan replied that Abraham has no insurance and one of the policemen had given her Buchanan’s card when he saw her break down in tears at her flooded restaurant. She then called Buchanan and tearfully told him of her need for help.

We went to Holly Hill and while completing work on one job, Pastor Terry Martin and I went to buy some needed material from a hardware store and to assess the damage at Abraham’s restaurant. As we pulled up to her restaurant, it had a closed sign on it and the lights were out.

I stepped out of the truck wearing one of our ERT shirts and a lady walking down the sidewalk paused in front of me, put her hand over her mouth as to catch her breath and with tears in her eyes asked, “Did ya’ll come for me?”

I replied, “If you own this restaurant, then we did.” She started praising God and shouting, “Thank you, Jesus!” We looked the flooded-out restaurant over and I told her it was a big job and that we had one more roof job to do, so we would probably not get to help her until several days or a week later.

She nodded that she understood and thanked us for coming by. As we drove off, Martin and I distinctly felt God telling us to go back and tell her we would help her today if it meant stating into the night. That is what we did.

We returned later with our team and she then told us a story of how depressed she was that her business appeared ruined. When she went to leave home to go to the restaurant, her daughters asked why are you going? You cannot open the restaurant in the condition it is in, the told her.

Shirley Abraham replied, “I felt God telling me to go and not open up but to just stay there and see what I could do. Then your team arrived and I knew you were God-sent and that God wants my ministry from this restaurant to continue and he really does care for and love me!”

After cutting and tearing out the storm-soaked carpet and mucking out of the restaurant, we sat down to a wonderful home-cooked meal by Shirley Abraham and her daughters and we thanked God for how wonderfully good he is – “all the time!”

Billy Robinson is SC UMVIM disaster ERT coordinator.



Lee Harter has been editor of The Times and Democrat since 1981

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