Helping Hands came about as a response to Hurricane Katrina. The first five years were dedicated to helping the people of Mississippi recover from the storm. People with stable finances and insurance can repair and replace their dwellings in less than five years, but those without funds need the help of many volunteers for many years.

The Summerton area of South Carolina was flooded in 2015 after severe rains, Called the 1000 Year Flood, water emptied out of lakes and into rivers. The rivers flowed into the ocean about 30 miles away, but had nowhere to go. Towns and neighborhoods all over coastal South Carolina were affected. If that was not bad enough, Hurricane Matthew in October of 2016 blew away what had not washed away the year before. Many houses were uninhabitable due to the two storms.

Twenty-five people from the Lehigh Valley spent a week in Summerton. This is Helping Hands’ second year in this town with a population of just under one thousand. We worked in three groups. One group installed a metal roof, although rain and thunderstorms hindered the work. A second group, replaced kitchen flooring and built and replaced stairs that had been swept away.

The third group worked on the Presbyterian Church Manse, the oldest structure in Summerton, which had been unoccupied for eighteen months. Since there was no pastor, the church was using the manse to house volunteers who have been coming from all over the country. We stayed in the manse, but it also needed repairs. The walls had bad cracks in the foyer. The dining room had lead paint peeling off the walls. So we spackled and put up wallboard, and spackled and spackled and spackled some more! With a fresh coat of paint, you would never know how it had looked.          –Leslie Pohl