MY TURN. How you can help S.C. flood victims

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Flood waters cover train tracks heading into Kingstree, S.C. Photographer Linda W. Brown shot this photo Oct. 6 while standing on the bridge over the railroad. A short distance away, water as running over a major highway. (Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.)

By Tim Ervolina, president, United Way Association of South Carolina
Exclusive to Statehouse Report

OCT. 6, 2015 | This flood has a thousand stories.



I could tell you about the disaster response volunteer from Danville, Virginia, who called in the midst of the deluge to offer tractor-trailers full of relief supplies, along with trained volunteers to pass them out.

I could tell you the community health worker who was looking for infant formula for a Hispanic mother of a fragile baby. When we got it to her, we found that the worker had been in a shelter since her own evacuation days ago.

I could tell you about the faith communities, the first responders, the medical staff, the animal shelter volunteers and the ordinary people who opened their hearts, their homes and their wallets to their neighbors and to total strangers.

But I want to tell you one particular story.

Michael works for United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral service. He is an extremely talented young father who goes to college at night. He is a talented photographer and writer. Before he came to work for us, he had some run-ins with the law. We believed in him and he has excelled. He doesn’t make a lot of money, but he’s working hard to make sure that someday he will be solidly middle class.

Today, Michael was on the phone with people whose lives have been dramatically changed. He was helping them find the resources they need. And he’s darn good at it. He never told anyone who called him that he knew what they were going through because he had lost everything himself: his modest home, his clothes, his car and his precious camera. He didn’t tell them he was staying in a shelter. He just kept comforting others and making sure they had what they needed.

14.unitedway_125Right now, at this intersection of crisis and compassion, our state is responding like never before to feed, clothe, comfort and shelter those who have nothing. At least for awhile.

However, we have neglected investment in our infrastructure so much and for so long that a regional disaster of this magnitude is going to have ripple effects through the entire state. Redesigning a modern, safe water supply and sewerage system, rebuilding neighborhoods, roads, businesses and lives will be a long, hard, expensive process.

We no longer have a choice because our capital city and much of our state has been ruined. But that’s the long story. Here’s the short story: We need your help now.

United Way has established several regional flood recovery funds to help victims:

For the Tri-county area:

For the Midlands:

For Williamsburg and Georgetown counties:

For Clarendon, Sumter and Lee counties:

In addition to your gifts, your time is needed as well. You can help get connected to volunteer opportunities here:

This flood has a thousand stories. Be part of one.

Tim Ervolina is president of the United Way Association of South Carolina.


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