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ONDBEAT: Community goes with Flo-caused aftermath to help others

Hurricane Florence survivors on dry land with decent roofs over their heads consider themselves fortunate.

Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Florence slammed into the Carolinas wreaking damage and destruction, the region is gradually starting to bail out at varying degrees.

The water and flooding may have subsided, but many people have been left without homes or with substandard ones.

Along newly reopened Ash Little River Road this week, still flanked in places with foul-smelling damp and muddy roadsides, piles of furniture and household fixtures that previously made a home could be seen along both sides of the road outside houses where flooding spurred by Florence was rampant.

Since Florence blew through Sept. 14-16, members and volunteers at Soldier Bay Baptist Church in Ash have been doing their part to provide food, supplies and even hot showers for residents in the region who lost everything, or close to everything.

They said their efforts would continue indefinitely as long as there is need, including Ash where access roads, in addition to homes, were inundated for days.

Pastor Jason Benton said Monday the church is continuing relief efforts. Starting this past Tuesday, Oct. 2, the church men’s group was going out to homes to help with debris cleanup and putting tarps on roofs.

Storm damage and destruction have affected two or three families in Waccamaw Acres and about 36 homes in the Myrtle Head community, Benton said.

He said Soldier Bay will just be providing even more “boots on the ground.”

“We’re just going to homes and helping and showing the love of the Lord to these people during this time,” said Benton, who visited every homeowner in Waccamaw Acres this past Saturday to assess their needs.

The church is continuing to give out water, cleaning supplies and food, including providing lunches for children who depend on that while schools remain closed.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” Benton said, estimating they’ll still be in this mode for three to four more weeks.

“We take it a week at a time,” said Benton, deeming Hurricane Florence the worst storm to ever hit Ash.

“My father-in-law is 80 years old,” Benton said. “He’s lived here his whole life. It is the storm of the century.”

As Benton spoke Monday, he said he was at one of those homes on Ash Little River Road where all of a man’s ruined household furnishings and belongings are piled out front awaiting roadside pickup.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” Benton said.

Many displaced residents have gone to stay with other members of their families who are on higher ground. One man who lives at Myrtle Head has gone to live with his daughter in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“I have to go on record bragging on God and him supplying resources,” Benton said. “These people just need strength, and the community is coming together. The closeness of this community is absolutely amazing. We give God all the glory.”

The main items needed right now, he said, are paper products including paper towels and toilet paper and cleaning supplies so people can clean their homes. Many have also asked for cleaning and yard tools including brooms, shovels and rakes.

“More and more people are asking for cleaning equipment,” he said.

Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.