Our staff and volunteers are busy helping homeowners with downed trees and debris
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, Samaritan’s Purse is assisting homeowners in Beaufort County, South Carolina.Volunteer In The Carolinas
Hundreds of volunteers from the local area as well as from around the country are coming alongside homeowners to help them in their distress. Our host church is LowCountry Community Church in Bluffton.
Yet Another Thing
For Jill Abla of Bluffton, Hurricane Matthew was yet another crisis in a string of devastating circumstances over the last few years. A year ago this single mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, which resulted in a full mastectomy. Just eight weeks ago, her 30-year-old son who lived with her was killed in an accident.
As the physical storm of Hurricane Matthew approached, she evacuated to Augusta, Georgia, and then Atlanta with her son’s two black Labradors—the only living remembrance of him she has left. Together with a friend and her teenage daughter they had six dogs and three cats among them.
While away, knee-deep water flooded her yard and the road in front of her house as the lagoon across the street swelled. Half a dozen large trees in her yard snapped in half—one of them putting a hole in her roof. Water entered her garage and home, leaving watermarks eight inches up the walls.
When Jill returned, she noticed a Samaritan’s Purse tent and remembered the 100-plus Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts she has packed with her AWANA group each of the last seven years. She told those working at the tent of the needs at her home and to her surprise, Jill received her own plastic shoebox from Samaritan’s Purse—full of toilet paper and other hygiene supplies.
But on Wednesday afternoon, a Samaritan’s Purse team descended upon her yard and in two hours had cleaned up all the trees and the sludge the overflow of the lagoon had left behind.
“It was just a God-send,” Jill said. “I didn’t have money to hire someone and all my friends were occupied with their own jobs and messes.”
Today Jill knows where to attribute this provision. For 25 years she’d been a Muslim after marrying a man from Beirut, Lebanon. But five and a half years ago she began to feel strongly that there was something wrong with her religion.
“I told [my husband] I wanted to go to church and that was pretty much the end of our marriage,” Jill said.
Soon after she began attending church, Jill accepted Christ as her Savior. To her delight, her late son also surrendered his life to the Lord on Christmas Eve 2015—just eight months before he died.
Jill has been through most of life’s biggest stressors. She’s lived through a divorce, bankruptcy, a bout with cancer, the loss of a job, and death of a child all in a few short years. Yet she said, “My faith is stronger than ever and God’s brought me through every one of them.”
Volunteers Make It Happen
The volunteer crew who cleaned up Jill’s yard were employees of a painting and commercial construction company. The owner, Amador Rivera, who worked alongside his employees clearing trees, said, “I think it’s time to give back to God for the blessing He has given us.”
Amador and 15 of his employees ceased work for the week to assist with Hurricane Matthew cleanup, just like they had done in Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. “There is a time for everything. There is a time to make money and there’s a time to help people,” Amador said. “This is the time that counts.”
On other work sites around the area, church youth groups got involved in serving as well. High school sophomore Ryan Matovich, 16, spent Wednesday cleaning up downed trees and taking debris to the side of the road for removal. “I wanted to help and minister at the same time. What I liked most was seeing the faces of the people we helped today,” he said.
University of South Carolina at Beaufort student Kendall Philipps volunteered the first two days Samaritan’s Purse operated in Bluffton and plans to continue all week. “I’m a broke college student so I don’t have any money to give and I don’t have a lot of food to give, but I do have my time. So I figured this was the best way to give back to this community.”
Serving God’s Servants
The home Kendall worked on Thursday morning belonged to her LowCountry Community Church Pastor Jeff Cranston and his wife Darlene. When Jeff drove back to his home Wednesday afternoon after the mandatory evacuation, he crossed several sections of road that were still under significant water.
Approaching his property, he couldn’t see the house due to trees that had fallen in his driveway. He crawled on his hands and knees to get past them, but when he opened the door to his home he said, “I was nearly knocked over by the smell.” Eight inches of water had covered their first floor, ruining carpets and floors. A tree laid on a section of their roof as well. They expect to be out of their home of 17 years for two to three months as repairs are made.
A team of 10 Samaritan’s Purse volunteers worked to cut up downed trees in their back yard and clear debris. Some of these attended LowCountry Community Church and were eager to serve their pastor.
The volunteer site team leader Shannon Derouen engineered the removal of the tree on the house. A small business owner in Memphis, Tennessee, Shannon specializes in technical tree work.
“I’m special ops if you will—Saw Team 6,” he said. Shannon has deployed to roughly 20 disasters with Samaritan’s Purse, giving up his income each time.
One of the other chainsaw operators on the team at Pastor Cranston’s home, Paul Peters, evacuated his home in Fernandina Beach, Florida, to escape Hurricane Matthew. When he returned to his home and found little damage, he came north to help others who were badly affected by the storm.
“I just think it’s cool that you can give back by a little sweat and caring for people,” Paul said.
Around noon yesterday, the volunteers who worked on Pastor Cranston’s home in Jesus’ Name gathered in a circle to pray for him before they left. Through Jeff’s tears of gratitude, he said, “You’ve moved us forward a month in one morning.”
Speaking of all the volunteer operations happening at his church, Jeff said, “We’re very grateful—very grateful—for Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.”
LowCountry Community Church is no stranger to Samaritan’s Purse. They have sent teams to serve in disaster relief since 2008 and also pack Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.
Samaritan’s Purse Hurricane Matthew U.S. relief efforts are also active in Horry County, South Carolina and Edgecombe County, North Carolina.