Being born and raised in Edisto Beach, South Carolina, Kelly Wyatt is no stranger to the volatile weather that can rock the coastline. While Kelly was fortunate that her own home wasn't damaged she knew she needed to lend a hand.
She arrived on Monday morning to volunteer at the Presbyterian Church of Edisto Island which has become the unofficial hub for recovery in their community. By Tuesday, she had taken over organizing incoming supplies and volunteers. The response from the community has been amazing but there is significant need.
"One of the main concerns is that there is no work right now," says Kelly. "So many people work on the beach and have not been able to work since the hurricane. With no money coming in they are unable to buy the groceries they need for their families."
People have been coming in from everywhere to donate food, clean-up supplies and even the use of their washer and dryer to help affected families get back on their feet again.
"We want to help as many families as we can. It's incredible, tons of people have been coming in – there is just so much need," says Kelly.
Kelly doesn't know what the coming days will bring but says if left with supplies. "We will pay it forward because we know there are other communities that have been affected worse than ours."
Kelly is one of many volunteers from the community who is working tirelessly to help her friends and neighbors.
Pastor Mary Ann Kaiser is another longtime resident supporting this effort. She and her husband decided not to evacuate the Island because “the Lord told us to stay during the storm to help others”. After the storm, they immediately went door to door checking on residents in their neighborhood, offering to remove fallen trees and assessing their needs.
Pastor Kaiser came to the Presbyterian church to offer pastoral services, hugs and her time to distribute food and supplies. “The donations have been unreal. As soon as we run out of something, more just shows up”.
The local Lowes Home Improvement store, Salvation Army, National Guard, Baptist Men's Association and the American Red Cross are just a few of the businesses providing supplies and services but many more are pouring in from local residents.
She tells the story of a very tall man that came to her and said, “are you giving prayers because I want some prayer?" Mary Ann asked him what he wanted prayer for and he responded “I want prayer for more of God." Another woman with tears in her eyes approached and said “I need that lift like I got the other day." Pastor Kaiser immediately came to the woman, wrapped arms around her and began to pray. Her smile reappeared and you knew she would be ok.