In October of 2015 a massive flood swept through South Carolina, leaving damage and even death in its wake. Following the flood of water, though, there came a flood of service.
As soon as waters receded, those who had been less affected gathered to help those who were suffering most. One volunteer, Matthew Cox, reached out to discover what needed to be done, what was already being done, and how his community members could contribute.
Through Facebook, Matthew connected with Teri Stomski, who was organizing relief in the Columbia area.
“It was within a day of when we started [our relief efforts] and Matthew contacted me and said, ‘Hey we are with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we have got volunteers. Is there any way you could use us?’ And I said, ‘Oh my goodness, do we have needs!’ The LDS Church was the first to be there, first boots on the ground,” said Teri.
Hoping for maybe one hundred Latter-day Saint volunteers, Teri was blown away when several hundred showed up that weekend to demolish ruined houses and remove debris.
“There wasn’t a group that was as organized and committed. Without the LDS Church we would not have been successful,” Teri stated.
Several full-time missionaries offered their service too. For them, it quickly became about more than demolishing homes.
“I realized as I took on the perspective of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we are helping [victims] build up their confidence and not lose hope,” said Sister Housari. “It’s seriously been a blessing to be able to help people and act as a representative of Christ in that way.”
Rachel Larratt, another caring community member organizing relief efforts, found the missionaries invaluable.
“If you call them they are here and they show up and work until the job is done. I’m a total stranger; they don’t know me from anybody else,” Rachel said, “but now I feel like I can call everybody that I have met in the Mormon community a friend because they have been so amazing.”
“I had a different idea of what missionaries did,” she went on, “but you know, they are up at soup kitchens, they are helping all throughout the community, in addition to the teaching appointments. They are making a difference in this world.”
For ideas on how to respond to a disaster or offer help in your own community, click here.
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