Disaster Relief to flood victims in South Carolina
We received a call Friday mid-morning from The Salvation Army Disaster Relief requesting disaster relief family boxes be delivered to Columbia, South Carolina over the weekend. The water has receded enough in the Columbia, SC area for disaster relief organizations like the Salvation Army to begin clean up efforts and support to the victims of flooding.
Monica, MFB's Director of Administration and her husband, Steve, a CDL licensed volunteer driver, share her experiences of riding along in the semi truck to a disaster relief site.
When I found out the disaster relief boxes needed to go I knew it was bad timing for our volunteer drivers. Bad timing because most of our volunteer drivers who are farmers, would be in the fields committed to their harvest. And there was already another driver one the road due back right at the same time this disaster relief load would have to go out. My husband and I have talked about volunteering for a MFB trucking opportunity, but the timing was never right. After about an hour of God nudging me I finally called my husband to discuss it with him. We had so many plans and committments the next 3 days I was hoping he would just say NO, but he didn't hesitate and said we should. So we did!
We left by 3pm on that Friday, October 16th armed with directions, packed bags, a trailer full of 800 disaster relief boxes and content hearts to serve our great God. I must say, the MFB trucks are beautiful and comfortable. My husband, Steve, was in awe of how easy and comfortable it was to drive the semi. We drove to Indianapolis and then around Cincinnati into Kentuky with the sun setting in our rearview mirror. We stopped in Corinth, KY and stayed at a small truck stop for the night. Staying at a truck stop is an interesting experience that I will not forget and I can now cross off my "bucket list". Did you know it cost $12 for a shower?! The semi bunks were very comfortable, though we had a little trouble getting the temperature right that first night. We had a refrigerator and microwave in the truck and ate dinner at the table before we turned it into a bed.
The 2nd day was our favorite part because we drove through the Great Smokey Mountains. The scenery was beautiful! The trees were just starting to turn Fall colors but mainly green. The rolling mountains and deep valleys were true wonders of God's creation. So many flowing streams and rivers winding through the mountains just as we were. It was truly awesome to us.
After passing through Kentuky, Tennesse, and North Carolina, we arrived in Columbia, South Carolina and easily found the shopping mall we were scheduled to drop at. We met two great, Salvation Army volunteers eager to help us drop the trailer. We didn't see any flooding or appearance of damage until our Salvation Army friends pointed out the sand in the parking lot and in most streets where the water had been but now receded. They described the businesses and homes that were flooded just down the street from where we were standing and the swollen creeks and rivers in nearby neighborhoods and towns that were still praying for the water to recede. Even though we were very curious, we had no time to explore these areas, especially with the restrictions a semi truck would bring. Instead we shared our plans for return and their plans to distribute much needed food and clean up supplies.
We were back on the road in about 45 minutes headed back home to Peoria, IL with out the trailer (they call this bob-tailing). The drive was different but easier without a loaded trailer as Steve was able to menuever and turn with less to worry about. We decided on a due West then North route home so we didn't have to travel through the Smokies at night. So we went through Atlanta and stayed outside of Chattanooga at a Flying J truck stop. This Flying J was huge, with 100s of other trucks also spending the night with us. Again, "check" off my bucket list.
Day 3 we were 9 1/2 hours from home, still comfortable, but now getting restless to arrive. We couldn't ask for better conditions, traffic, transportation, and even company. We had clear skies, only one slow-moving construction site and welcomed alone-time as a couple. Only 1 "turn-around" was needed due to taking the wrong exit (I was the navigator - oops!) that cost us 20 minutes more travel time. By Indiana, I was getting restless, begining to pace in the back of the truck. At one point I was doing yoga stretching in the truck so thankful for the room to do so. We arrived at MFB on Sunday, Oct 18th in the early evening. It was at this point that we said to each other, "Did we just travel 1600 miles in a semi?"
God blessed this disaster relief trip in so many ways. His blessings were evident to us but our faith in
God's promises reassures us that many more blessings occured and will happen that we may never know about.
Thanks to MFB and our GREAT GOD for allowing us to be a small part of giving hope to those in need.