Samaritan's Purse volunteers tackle storm debris in Augusta area

Saturday, March 8, 2014 6:18 PM
Last updated Sunday, March 9, 2014 12:50 AM
  • Follow Your Faith

Shelly Moment stood in the front yard of her Augusta home Saturday and breathed a sigh of relief for the first time in more than a month.

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Samaritan's Purse volunteers assess a tree at Shelly Moment's Augusta home. Twenty volunteers aided in removing the fallen branches and storm debris from Moment's home.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Samaritan's Purse volunteers assess a tree at Shelly Moment's Augusta home. Twenty volunteers aided in removing the fallen branches and storm debris from Moment's home.


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February’s ice storm wreaked havoc on her Johns Road home, sending limbs crashing down on her roof and uprooting large trees in her backyard.

Unable to move the branches herself, Moment was about ready to give up when she received a call from a volunteer with Samar­i­tan’s Purse, an international disaster relief organization. The volunteer told her that a crew would arrive shortly to remove the debris.

“I didn’t believe them,” she said with a chuckle.

Within a couple of hours, about 20 volunteers arrived at Moment’s home. Some removed broken limbs while others cut dangling branches. Moment wasted no time showing her gratitude.

“Before they even had a chance to do the work, I was thanking them for coming because they didn’t have to,” she said. “If it weren’t for them, I think those trees would’ve had to stay back there and rot.”

Samaritan’s Purse, based in Boone, N.C., arrived in the Augusta area Feb. 17, pro­gram manager Jonathan Ble­vins said. Pine View Baptist Church has served as its “lighthouse church,” or home base.

Outside the church sits one of the organization’s disaster relief units, a repurposed tractor-trailer equipped with enough power tools to outfit several teams at once.

On Saturday, Samaritan’s Purse joined forces with the Augusta Emergency
Man­age­ment Division to
send about 70 volunteers to more than 530 homes throughout Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties.

“We do this every day,” said Blevins, who added that helping others is his calling. “The folks we try to reach out to are those who can’t help themselves. We’ve been welcomed by everyone that we’ve come in contact with.”

Volunteers have come from all parts of the country, Blevins said, and one came from Australia to help with the cleanup. They sleep and eat at the church every evening, showering in a separate trailer behind the church.

Rudy Barrington, one of the team leaders, traveled from Waycross, Ga., to lead a crew of 12 volunteers Saturday. By about 1:30 p.m., his team was working on its fourth location, a small home on Westcliff Court in Martinez.

“We feel like this is something that we should do – help people who can’t help themselves,” Barrington said. “We want to share our love. It’s helpful to the
homeowners, of course, but it is very gratifying for us to help other people as well.”

Though crews have worked almost daily for more than three weeks, cleanup efforts might last at least another week, Blevins said.


Samaritan’s Purse is requesting aid from more volunteers to help clear storm debris. Those interested are asked to arrive at Pine View Baptist Church at 119 Pleasant Home Road in Martinez by 7:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday to check in. Volunteers will be split into teams and dispatched to homes.

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willie7 03/08/14 - 08:58 pm
God Bless these people. They

God Bless these people. They are real heroes!!!!

deestafford 03/09/14 - 12:24 am
This is the way charity should be...

This is the way charity should be...local, state, and regional without the federal government unless ALL ELSE fails.

Hats off to all who help. God Bless.

InChristLove 03/09/14 - 07:35 am
God Bless these

God Bless these volunteers!

The only thing that troubles me is here you have a picture of a 59 year old man carrying limbs and debris, but in every picture of the home owner, she's decked out in nice clothes, jewelry and a nice hair do. I understand that the home owner needed help with the larger cleanup but she didn't look disabled and I question, did she at least help the volunteers with the minor cleanup of carrying smaller limbs and debris to the road.

seenitB4 03/09/14 - 10:41 am
Great work

This is the kind of charity we had in the past....we need this again.

TrulyWorried 03/09/14 - 12:22 pm
To InChristLove

May have messed up the fingernails!

I have a huge old oak that fell over my fence onto Richmond County's part of their "property". I am 82 - my disabled son is physically unable - I have insurance that pays for a number of unbelievably large trees that fell inside my property, have to pay deductible and insurance is not interested in the county's responsibility (can't blame them) - will Richmond County move that tree from THEIR part of the property?

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