Rebuilding program by Samaritan’s Purse in Andrews, S.C., reaps joy and hope for displaced families
Wayne Watford knows his stamina is on the downward slide. When he was in his mid-20s, he could put in a full day’s work at his job, then stay up till midnight building his new home with some buddies. That was in 1977. Today is a different story.
In fact, Wayne almost hit his physical breaking point a few weeks ago. Parts of his home in Andrews, S.C., were severely damaged by the epic floods in October, and he was working feverishly to get his adult daughter’s bedroom repaired. Tina has Down syndrome and her room is her world, so Wayne and his wife Debbie wanted to get it done and move Tina back in.
“Now that I’m getting older, I realized I couldn’t tear that floor out by myself like I could back when I built the home,” Wayne said. “I was almost whipped and then a team from Samaritan’s Purse comes along and offers to help me.”
Our volunteers not only assisted Wayne in completing Tina’s bedroom, they helped him tear out the tile from an adjacent bathroom and finish it as well.
Mission accomplished—all in time for Christmas.“As the mother of a special needs child, I was so thankful how the Samaritan’s Purse volunteers took to Tina and she took to them,” Debbie explained. “It blessed my heart.”
While sitting with Tina on her bed, Debbie turned to her 45-year-old daughter and said, “They came in here and put your floor down and helped you move back in.”
“Moved back in,” Tina replied, shaking her head up and down.
“We thank God for them, don’t we,” Debbie then said.
“Yes, we do,” Tina agreed. “Yes, we do.”
Samaritan’s Purse continues to recruit volunteers for a major repair and rebuilding project in the Andrews area, so we can help more families like the Watfords. This intensive effort is in support of the Rapid Repair Program initiated by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to assist homeowners affected by the unprecedented flooding. There’s been a concerted push to get some residents back home prior to the Christmas holiday—and many more will return home soon after New Year’s. That includes Alexander and Mary Ellen Fishburne and James and Delcinia White.
Eyes Opened, Prayers Answered
Muddy water flooded throughout Alexander and Mary Ellen’s home after the Black River rose sharply, overflowed its banks and rushed up the steep, elongated bank to the house.
“We were clueless as to what we were going to do,” Mary Ellen said. “Then Samaritan’s Purse showed up in our front yard and asked if we needed help. We said yes.”The next day, nine Samaritan’s Purse volunteers arrived and began tearing out waterlogged walls and flooring. They gutted the home, preparing it to be repaired.
The retired couple didn’t just receive physical assistance. Alexander was touched spiritually. Throughout the disaster relief phase, chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team joined with Samaritan’s Purse to provide spiritual and emotional care.
For 45 years, Mary Ellen had prayed for, witnessed to and lived out her Christian faith in front of her husband. Throughout that time, he watched Billy Graham on television, weighing what he said in his evangelistic messages. But uncertainties lingered.
“It’s not that I was an atheist, I just had doubts,” Alexander said.
Two RRT chaplains talked at length with Alexander, patiently answering every question. Afterward, he understood that God loved him and sent His Son to die on the Cross for his sins and was raised from the dead on the third day. Alexander prayed to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior.
“My eyes were finally opened,” he said.Alexander asked Samaritan’s Purse officials if the organization was going to rebuild homes in Andrews as they had in other cities after damaging storms. That was a possibility but a decision had not yet been made. So Alexander and Mary Ellen debated between themselves what their next step would be.
Pinching his right forefinger and thumb together so there was only a sliver of space between them, Alexander said he was that close to demolishing his home and moving to Florida with Mary Ellen.
The couple took a Thanksgiving break to visit her family in the Sunshine State. The night they returned, they received a call from Samaritan’s Purse that the rebuilding phase would soon begin. The Fishburnes were overjoyed.
“Not only did Samaritan’s Purse really, really help us in our time of need when the disaster was so fresh, they stuck with us afterwards to make sure we could get back into our home,” Mary Ellen said.The flooding by the Black River also dramatically affected James and Delcinia White. This was their second life-altering tragedy in 16 months. A fire destroyed their previous home on February 13, 2014. They rebuilt their modular unit on the same property, only to be damaged by this year’s disaster.
Enter Samaritan’s Purse. Volunteers gutted the Whites’ home and are now repairing it.
“I had never heard of them before,” James said. “But I do know one thing. It’s amazing to know that you’ve got people that come in and don’t know me from nobody and offer to help me—and help me willingly.
“When they contacted me and told me they were going to do reconstruction, the only thing I could say was ‘Thank You, God,’” he added. “I just had to go on faith and know that God was going to make everything alright. It ain’t easy, but He’ll get us through it.”