​You Gotta Live Your Religion

“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NKJV)

On the morning of April 13, 2020, an EF2 tornado struck the Laurel and Hardy Road community in Pumpkintown, SC. The resulting damage was far worse than many community members could remember experiencing. The area had no power, no communication, blocked roadways and destroyed properties.

Once the roadways were cleared, our team drove into this community and began meeting some of the folks affected by the devastation. These are folks who, in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, have now lost their homes as well. However, in spite of this, so many remain grateful for their health. We also began to hear the stories of nearby neighbors reaching out to assist the community. Neighbors helping neighbors in the midst of crisis.

Here are just some of the comments we have heard while visiting this community to give assistance:

  • “On the same week the tornado hit, my daughter had a heart attack. I can’t go visit her because of the virus, but she is going to be okay. Our house has been condemned because it is not safe. But we are okay, and nobody was hurt. We are thankful.”
  • “We got out of our home and went to our RV. Some type of electrical fire started in the home, but then it went out. Later, the fire started again and destroyed my home. My son’s home was destroyed, as well, but no one was hurt. I don’t know what we are going to do, but we are meeting with Red Cross soon.”
    • We asked this woman if it was okay for us to pray for her and her family. Her response was “Yes, I need some prayer. My daddy always used to say, ‘You gotta live your religion.’ It’s not about acting. You have to live your religion every day.”
  • “I gave to the United Way at my work just about every year. I never knew that one day I would need assistance from United Way.”
  • “Those church people showed up the very next day. Not just with stuff to eat or drink. They asked us what they could do to help, and they came ready to work. They helped clean up all the debris from our property, lifting and carrying big trees.”
  • “The farmer across the street came to our neighborhood while it was still dark out. He was climbing over trees and live electrical lines to get in here and make sure everyone was okay. He has donated his workers’ time and his equipment for at least fourteen days now.”

Hearing these stories, we developed a clear picture of how our community worked together and how God worked through our community. Though the damage caused by the EF2 tornado seemed overwhelming, the people in our community stepped up to help with compassion and faith. We saw neighbors drop everything to help one another. We saw God extending grace through the efforts of His people.

We witnessed government agencies assess the damage and report the required information to proper authorities. This information helped Pickens County obtain a presidential declaration of a disaster. That declaration furthered our community’s case to receive FEMA funding.

The United Way of Pickens County and the United Way of Greenville County set up tornado emergency relief funds to help in rebuild the affected community.

Many Pickens County residents donated food, tarps, gloves, trash bags and other items for the initial emergency response.

National Guard personnel were on scene with equipment to remove debris from the roads, rivers and properties.

Churches drove to the neighborhood and put in blood, sweat and tears to help others. They also provided food and water, serving their neighbors in crisis.

Throughout our community, we saw individuals and organizations extending helping hands with loving hearts!

To me, America’s strength has always been founded on our ability to care for our neighbors during times of crisis. It encourages me to see this strength here in Pickens County. God bless America!

Yours in Christ,

Jim Abbott | Pickens County Service Center Director

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