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Hurricane Hermine hit Florida then came in across SC as a tropical storm still packing wind gust to 60 mph and heavy down pours of flooding rain on Friday, September 2, 2016. Many trees fell in the wake of the storm and none more so that in Orangeburg County. Fire Departments and department of transportation personnel were so busy cutting fallen trees off of roadways that a separate radio channel had to be set up in Orangeburg County designated for disaster response, which lasted well into the night. After having my share of cutting trees with the North Fire Department the day and night before, Saturday found my wife Trudy and I riding with Orangeburg County Emergency Services Director Billy Staley on a tour of damaged homes in and around the city of Orangeburg. We were doing damage assessment with the United Methodist Volunteers In Mission’s Early Response Team (UMVIM – ERT). We found 5 homes that all had very huge trees on them or through them. Three were too big for our volunteer teams to handle so the homeowners would have to get a company remove it with a crane.

On Monday, September 5 sixteen UMVIM ERT personnel from across the state gave up their regular Labor Day activities and dedicated it to a “Labor Day of Love!” They emerged on the city and county of Orangeburg with chainsaws, ladders, roof tarping equipment and most importantly loving acts of compassion for the homeowners who were devastated. The teams started on Mosley Street and wound up on Shillings Bridge Road placing tarps on 3 homes, doing massive chainsaw work on two properties and moderate chainsaw work on another. This included cutting up a huge tree that had completely crashed through a mobile home then placing a tarp over the gap to prevent further damage to cutting trees off of other homes, tarping over holes in the roofs and even helping clear pathways for electrical lines. In one home a limb had punctured through the ceiling of a room where two people were sitting, just missing them. Several of the residents had no insurance including a home near Cope that still has a very huge tree hanging dangerously over it that will take a crane to remove. This family would much appreciate help as one company has given them a quote of $3500 to remove it. As soon as the tree is removed our UMVIM ERT can patch a hole from a limb of the tree sticking into the roof. Another home on Mosley Street we were able to place a trap over its damaged structure by the owner needs a new roof and has no insurance.

The UMVIM ERT members were: Troy Thomas, Stephen Bishop, Joe Kennedy, Richard Spencer, Felix & Misty Vazquez, Rev. Fred Buchanan, Rev. Frank Copeland, Ed Carson, Wayne Glasscock, Gary Smith, Jane Berrier, Hugh Kight, Bob & Ellie Brawn and Billy Robinson. It is a great honor and privilege to serve in the name of Jesus to whom we give all glory, honor and praise! The more we give the more we receive in true riches found in Jesus Christ. If everyone would but lend a helping hand of Christian love to others and truly seek to do good then what a wonderful world this would be.

Group Photo:
Kneeling (L-R) Billy Robinson, Stephen Bishop, Troy Thomas, Ed Carson, High Kight, & Bob Brawn. Standing: Rev. Fred Buchanan, Richard Spencer, Joe Kennedy, Home Owner – Chris Franklin, Misty Vazquez, Wayne Glasscock, Felix Vazquez, Ellie Brawn, Gary Smith & Jane Berrier.


ERT group praying at home site in Orangeburg


Taken at a home where a huge tree crashed through a mobile home.


Another home, where a big tree was on the home and another on an out building plus the electrical service damaged.


Group photo taken at the final home in Orangeburg.
Standing (L-R): Rev. Frank Copeland & Rev. Fred Buchanan. Kneeling: Misty Vazquez & Billy Robinson. Background (L-R): Ed Carson, Stephen Bishop, Richard Spencer, Wayne Glasscock, Troy Thomas, Home Owner – Stephanie Givens, Hugh Kight, Jane Berrier, Joe Kennedy & Felix Vazquez.


Photo Info: Hermine ERT Response

*All photos taken near or in Orangeburg, SC on September 5, 2016 during SC UMVIM ERT response in the aftermath of Hurricane / Tropical Storm Hermine. All photo except for the group shots were taken by Billy Robinson.


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