South Carolina ERTs in action
Just hours after 16 tornados touched down across the state on Monday, scores of volunteers from the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church left their own homes to help those who had lost theirs.
About 100 volunteers with specially trained Early Response Teams from around the conference have been working at dozens of homes from the Upstate through the Midlands and into the Lowcountry – cutting and clearing downed trees, placing tarps on damaged roofs, and taking the first steps alongside storm survivors on their journeys to rebuilding and recovery.
“Families have lost homes, jobs and even loved ones,” said Matt Brodie, disaster response coordinator for the South Carolina Conference. “But the people of The United Methodist Church continue to bring help in the form of volunteers willing to help.
“This is going to be a long and difficult recovery for many, but the church is dedicated to providing hope and resources for the long haul.”
While most of the ERT volunteers have years, even decades, of experience at this type of work, their efforts this week have been complicated by restrictions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To protect themselves and those they are helping, ERTs have been following the latest guidance from the United Methodist Committee on Relief. That includes social distancing (both within their teams and with the persons they are helping), routinely disinfecting shared equipment, and only working outdoors.
The Early Response Teams are being coordinated by Chuck Marshall and led by Mike Evans, Phil Griswold, Billy Robinson, Nick Shelly and Stephen Turner. The teams have worked at homes in and around Neeses and North in the Orangeburg District, Seneca and Clemson in the Anderson District, and Hampton and Estill in the Walterboro District.
United Methodist churches in those areas are pitching in by providing housing and meals for the volunteers.
“Please pray for all of the victims’ families, the survivors, emergency response personnel, leaders and all faith-based disaster response teams – including our Early Response Teams,” said Robinson, the ERT coordinator for South Carolina United Methodist Volunteers in Mission.
What else you can do
- If you haven’t already, report any damage to your district superintendent and to your district disaster response coordinator.
- Give to the United Methodist Committee on Relief at umcmission.org/umcor.
- Become trained as an Early Response Team member, once it is safe for training to resume. Training opportunities are posted at umcsc.org/disaster-response.
- Volunteer for ongoing long-term recovery efforts through UMCSC Disaster Recovery at umcsc.org/hurricane-florence.