'Jesus has called us to do this’: Students help hurricane victims during summer break

Students, homeowners rebuilding and learning nearly a year after Hurricane Florence

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - When people imagine students being out of school for summer break, hammers and shingles probably aren’t a part of that picture.

“We’re just coming out here to build some people’s homes that were damaged by some hurricanes and we think that Jesus has called us to do this or these people,” Wilds Powell, a church volunteer, said.

“Just knowing that we’re doing this for the Lord and that we are helping someone to live in their house," Kassie Quinn said. "I know some of these other teams they don’t even have occupancy in their houses yet so they are working extra hard so they can get it where someone can just live in it.”

The students from Lexington, S.C. are taking part in the SummerSalt Global Program through Baptist churches across the state, helping to rebuild both the homes and lives of five families affected by Hurricane Florence, while picking up some new life skills.

GOOD NEWS: More than 50 high school, middle school and college students are working through the area this week to rebuild homes that were damaged during Hurricane Florence. This is part of the Summer Salt Global program.

Posted by Casey Watson WMBF on Wednesday, July 17, 2019

“Our first job site we were doing cool sealant on a roof, on a metal roof," Quinn said. "So we did our first layer and the ridges and stuff then we did the first layer and the second layer. Also, we did a whole new set of stairs.”

Some may wonder how students between 13 and 20 are qualified to help rebuild houses. WMBF News was told all of their chaperones and supervisors are trained for the construction.

“We have a lot of good leaders here that really know what they’re doing," Powell said. "So they just teach us step-by-step, and once we’ve done a few, we pretty much got it. I think it just makes it all that much better that you’re doing it for these people to save them money or when they can’t pay for it. It’s a really good feeling.”

And as some were rebuilding from Hurricane Florence Wednesday, others were learning from it.

“If you remember and were watching during Hurricane Florence, there was a point in time where we were a bulls eye for a major category four storm in Horry County,” said Horry County Emergency Preparedness Director Randy Webster.

Webster spoke to folks at the Carolina Forest Civic Association meeting Wednesday night about what the county learned from the storm that has caused billions of dollars worth of damage.

“You know the road network really hasn’t expanded any over the last number of years," Webster said. "So, we’re still trying to funnel a lot of new people onto the same highways and it just takes a while to get all of that done. And with the fact that we had Hurricane Mathew three years ago and Florence last year, there’s a lot that we’ve learned.”

Webster has worked in emergency services or more than 35 years and said over the last few years one of the biggest challenges the county faces when it comes to a hurricane is an evacuation.

He said the influx of folks moving to the area changes the evacuation plan every year and this can impact the amount of time that it takes people to get out of the area.

The Horry County Emergency Preparedness director, Randy Webster, is speaking to a group of people tonight about...

Posted by Casey Watson WMBF on Wednesday, July 17, 2019

“It’s not to hard to understand when it’s time to go or that time may be coming if the governor issues a mandatory evacuation order," Webster said. "You don’t have to wait until then to leave. Sometimes it’s best that you don’t.”

He explained the the evacuation zones and what people need to do to stay safe.

“If you’re in Zone A, and that’s all the mandatory evacuation zone, you just need to get out of Zone A," Webster explained. "With that being said, you still are going to experience rain, wind, power outages and a lot more dangerous situations. So that’s where you have to decide where do I go? Do I leave the county or do I go to another area of the county?”

Now, Horry County EMA has an app that you can download to get more information about the evacuation zones.

As for the students, they said they’ll be leaving Friday, but if the area is hit again by a hurricane, they said they will be back.

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