Published October 29, 2015
MARIETTA—It was a deluge of great proportions. At the beginning of October, some parts of South Carolina received one to two feet of rainfall—an amount on average that should occur once every 1,000 years. Officials in both Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina, reported that the flooding from this event was worse than Hurricane Hugo’s flooding in 1989.
Columbia’s fire department reported multiple dam breaches and warned people to stay in safe, dry places. News sources showed a dangerous river of water flowing through parts of the state capital.
On Oct. 3, President Barack Obama signed a declaration of emergency for flood-ravaged South Carolina. This declaration allowed for federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the areas affected by severe storms and flooding, which began Oct. 1.
This action also allowed LaSalette Father Tom Reilly, pastor, and St. Ann Church, Marietta, to swing into action to assist their South Carolina neighbors. Within three days after the declaration, St. Ann’s Disaster Relief Ministry had contacted the South Carolina Emergency Management Association and formulated a plan of action, which would grow to include their entire parish family.
After consulting S.C. officials, the St. Ann group determined that immediate emergency items were needed for the residents, including water, Gatorade, non-perishable and canned food, diapers, wipes, powdered milk, bathroom tissue and paper towels. These needs were shared with the parish.
The result was an outpouring of compassion and support to bring these emergency items to the families in Columbia, one of the hardest hit areas. Over 4,000 families from St. Ann’s joined hands and worked tirelessly to collect these items and transport them in only seven days following the first declaration of emergency.
On Oct. 10, after a blessing by Father Tom for the victims and the volunteers, a caravan of eight vehicles, including a 20-foot U-Haul truck, one flatbed truck, and six other vehicles crammed full with emergency supplies drove some 148 miles to deliver their donations to a distribution center designated by the United Way.
Joining the St. Ann’s families in bringing hope and needed supplies were families from nearby Congregation Etz Chaim, who provided a financial donation. That congregation has been partners with St. Ann’s Disaster Relief Ministry for the past three years.
The estimated dollar amount of the seven tons of supplies was approximately $15,000. The estimated value to the hope brought to these families in the Columbia area was priceless.
St. Ann’s Disaster Relief Ministry has also registered as a volunteer relief organization willing to give additional assistance to the area residents. Currently the group is awaiting contact from the United Way of South Carolina in order to offer a further helping hand.
The ministry was previously initiated by a directive from Father Tom so that St. Ann’s could respond to the emergency needs in Adairsville, following a tornado. According to the St. Ann’s website, the ministry’s mission is “to respond and reach out to our neighbors in need, regardless of their religious affiliation. Our goal is to provide a ‘hand up’ by assisting in a meaningful way through prayer, financial assistance, and/or a physical presence.”
For further information about St. Ann’s Disaster Relief Ministry, visit the website at http://st-ann.org/disaster-relief-ministry/home. St. Ann is located at 4905 Roswell Road, NE, Marietta.