Saturday morning, a load of new mattresses was waiting just outside the Rosewood community in Socastee, an area still reeling from flood damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew.
Teams of volunteers with pickup trucks and youth missionaries from Palmetto Shores Church in Socastee were on hand to distribute queen and twin mattresses to residents in need – loading them out of two U-Haul trucks and onto the pickups and trailers for delivery to area homes.
This effort was spearheaded by Todd Wood, executive director of Impact Ministries of Myrtle Beach.
Impact Ministries is a long-standing missionary outreach for those who work in the resort industry in Myrtle Beach – but it is also part of an organization called Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, or VOAD.
Wood said he has been serving on the leadership team for VOAD in Horry County for probably 15 years.
“We coordinate everything on the disaster side as far as immediate response and all recovery,” he said.
After Matthew, 900 families registered on a website created by Wood, called www.myrtlebeachdisasterrelief.org, which is only active immediately following a disaster. Teams were first sent out to evaluate the homes, followed by teams that then began the work needed. These efforts are ongoing.
Wood approached a company called Good360, which connects nonprofits with excess donated merchandise and supplies from major companies.
“We registered with them, and I can look and see what materials they have and what I can [request] to bring here. Then it will usually be shipping only or a small processing fee. I told them we didn’t have any funds and that these people lost everything, and they said not to worry about it. They paid the shipping for the whole load, and it arrived yesterday,” he said.
That load contained a total of 102 Sealy Posturepedic mattresses.
“Good360 is an awesome organization,” he said.
Impact Ministries partnered with Palmetto Shores Church to distribute the mattresses.
“I spoke to Pastor Ronny Byrd and said I wanted to be able to work with a local church to manage this project and to make sure that these families are taken care of with whatever they may need – physically, emotionally and spiritually,” Wood said.
Byrd agreed to get on board, and Palmetto Shores Church members went from door to door at Rosewood with flyers. Families in need then called Impact Ministries to reserve their mattresses for pickup or delivery on Saturday.
Palmetto Shores Church has been helping with Matthew storm relief since the day after it happened, Byrd said.
“This is just another way for us to continue what we have already been doing, and this is part of the DNA of our church,” he said, adding that Palmetto Shores also is in the process of helping a family in Bucksport that lost everything as a result of Matthew.
Byrd cited a community effort at play here with Pastor Micah Lane of Socastee Baptist Church as well as the Waccamaw Baptist Association.
“When needs arise, we want to be ready to respond. It’s that simple,” he said.
Many of the young people volunteering Saturday are heading off on a mission trip to Honduras this summer.
“We want them doing locally what they are going to be doing in Honduras,” he said. “We don’t want them doing stuff in other places without doing it here first. It’s a training ground.”
Volunteer Andrew Welch is the owner of a company called Mr. Fence It in Myrtle Beach. He is also a member of Palmetto Shores Church.
He was on hand with his flatbed truck, ready to make deliveries.
“I have the means to help, so when you have the means to help and it has been given to you, you should give to others. It’s about as simple as that,” he said.
Zachary Raymund, 24, said his entire family lives in the Rosewood subdivision on Cottonwood Drive.
“It’s not like we can run to our aunt’s house or our grandma’s, because we all got flooded,” he said.
But he said the family is pulling together to make it work.
“I learned a lot about how to be emotionally prepared next time. I learned how to build a house – how to take off drywall and put on a roof. I take is as a blessing rather than a tragic moment. I know that kind of sounds bad, but why be sad and depressed forever? That’s the kind of person I am,” he said.
Raymund’s father, John Raymund, said they have four families living in the neighborhood in three houses on Cottonwood Drive.
“Right now, we’re getting our house together,” he said. “It’s still got a little more work. It’s coming along slowly but surely, but God is good to us.”
Zachary Raymund’s mother, Terri Straka told The Sun News that the restoration process is grueling, especially emotionally.
“It’s just a struggle, because once you rebuild, it’s not really the same. I call it the new normal. It’s an adjustment and it’s going to take time,” she said.
But the churches and the local community have been a big help.
“Without them, we would be nowhere. It’s extremely difficult, and they were very supportive – coming in and making sure we had food and supplies – and getting things cleaned up and put back together,” she said.
Straka’s mother, Darlene Demi, is recovering from a bout with cancer and her husband has COPD. She said she missed Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas because she was homeless and had to stay in Surfside Beach.
“I said I was going to have January on that lot or else. We moved a trailer from our neighbors onto the lot,” she said.
Demi said FEMA told her that her house not was livable.
“They won’t send an inspector to come and look at it again. I keep sending appeals. I have nothing but an empty shell of a house, and it’s full of mold,” she said.