Local Disasters in the Carolinas – April 2024

Two new disasters have recently occurred in the Carolinas, one in South Carolina and one in North Carolina. We want to highlight both and share ways in which you can assist with recovery. The first is a conventional natural disaster and the second is an unconventional disaster resulting from human activity.

On Saturday, April 20, a thunderstorm turned into a disaster for a small minority community in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  The storm is reported to have had winds up to 70 miles per hour and hail ranging from quarter size to grapefruit size. The hail pounded cars and homes, leaving damage that looks like something from a war zone. Trees were blown over onto houses and cars, two towers from a local radio station were destroyed, and residents were left with debris blocking roads and driveways.

LDR Carolinas coordinators Ray and Ruth Ann Sipe recently visited with Pastor Ken Gillikin of Epiphany Lutheran in Rock Hill, who has been working with Habitat for Humanity of York County as they assess damage, including damage to several Habitat for Humanity homes in the neighborhood (two are shown here).

Habitat reports that during their damage assessment intake, they had 146 individuals report damage. This includes 21 homes with no homeowner’s insurance, 10 with homeowner’s insurance, 67 with homeowner’s insurance but needing help with deductible amounts (estimated to be about $115,000 total), and 11 renters where the insurance information has not been determined with the landlords. In addition, 82 reported damage to cars with deductible amounts of nearly $45,000 (including this car under the tree), and more with damage who only have liability insurance. Because this storm is not a declared disaster, state or federal assistance is not available.  All assistance to fund repairs must come from donations.

LDR Carolinas worked with Epiphany Lutheran to evaluate preliminary needs and has obtained a Solidarity Grant from Lutheran Disaster Response of $10,000 which will be used to help Habitat repair as many homes as possible. In addition to this funding, we are asking for congregations and individuals who would like to contribute to send financial donations to Grace Lutheran Church in Rock Hill. Pastors Gregg and Rachel Hoffman will assist in collecting the donations and providing additional assistance to Habitat and those in need. Make checks payable to Grace Lutheran Church and mark them for Disaster Relief. 

Mail contributions to: Disaster Relief c/o Grace Lutheran Church, 426 Oakland Ave, Rock Hill SC, 29730. 

If your congregation would like to host a fund-raising event to gather funds for this relief effort, remember to have one of your Thrivent Members request an Action Team kit to provide seed money, banners, and T-shirts for those who help. Extra T-shirts can be sent to Habitat for them to use for their volunteers. 

Habitat is also in need of volunteers for cleanup and repair. If you or a team from your congregation would like to travel to Rock Hill and help, please reach out to York County Habitat for Humanity at [email protected] or call 803-328-1728 ext. 4 to arrange a time to assist them.  If you will be there multiple days and need housing, Epiphany has 12 cots that are available for volunteers if you wish to sleep overnight at the church.  The local YMCA can provide showers. Please contact Pastor Ken Gillikin at [email protected].

Our special thanks to Pastors Ken, Gregg, and Rachel as well as the congregations of Epiphany and Grace for their willingness to help during this relief effort.

(Photo credits – Ruth Ann Sipe)

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On April 29, in a normally quiet neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina, what should have been a routine arrest someone turned into a deadly shooting. Four law enforcement officers were killed as they attempted to execute an arrest warrant in the neighborhood near St. Thomas Lutheran Church.  The officers were Joshua Eyer, a Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer, Thomas Weeks Jr., a deputy US Marshal, and Alden Elliot and Sam Poloche, who both worked for the North Carolina Department of Correction.  The shootout, which lasted for several hours, resulted also resulted in the death of the suspect and injuries to several law enforcement officers.

Pastor Richard Hogg and the congregation of St. Thomas Lutheran Church have held past events for the local CMPD precinct and a number of the officers are well known to the congregation.  They are hosting the local homeowner’s association in May and will offer a meal and prayers for the community.  In June or July, they plan to have an event with the local precinct and offer prayers and a meal for the officers there. (Photo credit Rev. Richard Hogg)

We ask that you hold the families, friends, and co-workers of the four officers, along with the congregation and the entire community in your prayers.

If you have any questions about how you can help with either of these events, please contact Pastors Ray or Ruth Ann Sipe at LDR Carolinas!

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