In South Carolina, thousands of homes need repairs after damaging floods last fall. Photo: Jessica Brodie
Volunteers are needed for flood recovery in South Carolina, which may take three years
By Susan Kim*
March 29, 2016—After two feet of rain deluged parts of South Carolina in October 2015, state officials estimated that 160,000 homes were damaged by flooding.
For many of those homes, the damage is not only from the two feet of water that rose up from the floor but also overhead, from the historic rainfall that bombarded the state for so many days, said Ward Smith, flood recovery director for the South Carolina Conference.
“Unless a home has a tarp to protect it, the roof always leaks when it rains,” explained Smith. “You pray for a lot of sunshine. If your roof is still leaking then, sadly, this is the disaster that keeps on damaging your home.”
Responders and residents alike are praying that more volunteers will be inspired to sign up to travel to South Carolina to help. Although it has been nearly six months since the floods occurred, long-term recovery is just beginning and is expected to take three years.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is supporting South Carolina’s flood recovery with a grant that will be used to help set up three locations for long-term recovery and rebuilding. Case managers representing the conference will help flood survivors develop and resource their plans for permanent housing and other recovery needs.
The conference also will be providing volunteer coordination and housing as well as construction management.
Helping the most vulnerable
In a disaster that spans a wide geographic area, how do responders prioritize the need? UMCOR’s support helps people most vulnerable in the wake of a disaster. In South Carolina, 22 of 46 counties were declared disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and more than 52,000 residents applied for federal disaster relief.
The South Carolina Conference is collaborating with state and local agencies to avoid duplication of services and to identify the survivors with the greatest needs, including older adults, people with access and functional needs, and single-parent households.
Most areas had never had a history of flooding and, so, there is a high amount of uninsured losses. There is also a high degree of poverty in the most severely affected areas.
As Smith described the damages he is seeing in homes this week, it seems volunteers have their work ready and waiting. “We are seeing damaged drywall, kitchen cabinets, vanities, and doors, as well as roofs, siding, and many other areas of the home,” he said. “We sure do need volunteer teams. If you can’t come in the summer, start preparing to volunteer in the fall.”
Your gift to UMCOR U.S. Disaster Response, Advance #901670 will bring hope to flood survivors in South Carolina.
*Susan Kim is a journalist and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.