The Upstate steps up to help hurricane victims

Robert Vaughn of Anderson drove 12 hours to deliver pallets full of bottled water to hurricane victims


There’s a growing local effort to help out the more than two million people suffering in Houston right now. From individuals who hit the road, to churches on standby, ready to feed the hungry, people in the Upstate feel compelled to do something.

Houston is so bad off right now, it’s not even at the stage where the federal government is letting in a lot of outside volunteers. So the need right now for help looks different than how it will look weeks from now. But one thing is for sure, it will be there for quite some time.

The 4 convection ovens and tilt skillets in this First Baptist Church of Spartanburg mobile kitchen cooked 6000 meals a day after 9/11, Katrina, and the Columbia SC Flooding.

Minister of Mission Steve Wise says Texas is the next stop.

‘We are on alert which means that right now the state of Texas and FEMA are not approving volunteer agencies to come in just yet, but the minute they do they want us ready to leave.”

The church is grateful for monetary donations to its Disaster Relief Hurricane Harvey drive. “All the money” goes to relief efforts in Texas (note: the church is not receiving water or clothes donations for hurricane victims).

Meanwhile one Upstate man already out there is Robert Vaughn from Anderson.

On Facebook the Texas native has been documenting how he drove 12 hours with a truck full of pallets of water, and toiletries.

“I can tell you, I can’t leave today if I wanted to leave today. I’m about to wade up to see if my truck can get out of this area.”The hardest hit areas are hit in a way that I don’t think anybody ever thought would happen, there are so many people that were caught off guard, and they’re every walk of life,” he told 7News.

Back at home, bottled water donations are pouring into all 10 schools of Spartanburg District One, as the community answers the call ahead of Thursday’s major water drive.

“We are going to have or football players and cheerleaders helping out to unload the packs from the cars during that time, and then on Friday we are going to get the water packs to the Greenville Emergency Response Team, and then they will transport that water to Texas,” said Sandra Williams the district’s Chief Communications Officer.

Even school bus riders are encouraged to participate by bringing something that fits a little more easily between the seats like a gallon jug or six pack of water.

“If we were in the same situation and we had the floods here, we would want them to help us,” said Jake Ballew, an 8th grader at Gramling School in Campobello.

Local companies are also chipping in.   Bruce Patton from Carolina Management has started a “Match Challenge on Texas’s Disaster Relief.”

“There is massive price gouging on the basic necessities like water there, along with empty shelves! These folks are in major need of this and Carolinas Management will MATCH all bottled water donations and will ship it all to the shelters in Texas,” said a company Facebook post.

“Donate a case, he’ll donate a case. Donate a pallet, he’ll donate a pallet. Deadline SEP. 6th.  Call 864.586.1704 if you have any questions.#CarolinasH20toTexas,” it says.

Wise says the need now is nothing compared to what it will be in the weeks to come, as FEMA lets volunteers in to help rebuild. And he encourages people to get the training needed to be approved for entry, when the time comes.

“Be ready when there is a general call, we need lots of help. Because it will get to the point where houses need to be rebuilt, cleaning needs to be done, it will be a lot more volunteers that will be needed, and there will be on site training that will be available, so be ready for that opportunity. taking care of your business here so you can go when that time comes, those are the way you can help right now,” said Wise.