|Experiencing a disaster such as the loss of a home is not a memory that goes away, either for the victims or those helping them, according to SCE&G billing specialist Lynn Carter. She and her friend, Rita Rice, a senior clerk in SCE&G electric operations training, joined Rice's husband, Greg, in traveling to North Myrtle Beach to assist the American Red Cross following the devastating fire that destroyed many homes last April.
"I've experienced fire personally, and I knew what it would be like. But it was still shocking to see the devastation both physically and on the faces of the people affected," Carter said. "You've worked hard for your home and all you and your family have accomplished. It's such a loss. But you could see in their faces, 'I'm not giving up. This won't take me down. This is my home.' Their spirit as a community was amazing."
Their trip to the destruction at Barefoot Landing resort began with a phone call from a friend on the board of the American Red Cross, asking Greg Rice, photographer for Northeast United Methodist Church, to document the damages in the development. Rita Rice and Lynn Carter readily agreed to accompany him to help with the photography and provide support to the Red Cross.
They spent Saturday, April 25, 2009 riding through the tightly guarded community with a Red Cross truck and driver, stopping along the way to take photographs of damaged and destroyed homes. At the same time, they handed out cleaning supplies, food, drink and encouraging words.
Strangely, they would see one house standing while surrounding homes had been destroyed. This was the case with a family that awoke, jumped up and ran out the door at 1:30 a.m., carrying two babies that were visiting. Not knowing what they would find after the fire, they were surprised and thrilled that their home sustained absolutely no damage. The ground around the house was wet from running sprinklers to prepare for landscaping, which may have prevented the fire from spreading to their property.
"You'd see a green front yard with plants untouched while the house was gone, and siding and fences that had melted," said Rice. The team took approximately 500 photos. Seventy-five homes were destroyed.
The American Red Cross recognized Carter and the Rices at its annual meeting in June, 2009 with "Trendsetter" awards for their community service following the fire.
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