Then on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we have gone down to the heart of Columbia and helped out where the flooding was the absolute worst off of South Beltline and Timberchase lane (I think that's right). We've been either stripping entire homes to the studs or removing belongings from houses before they are demolished. In the neighborhood we have been in, the flooding was higher than the roofs of the homes. I've mostly been knocking out drywall and things like that. There was one home where we had to go in and search for anything valuable that the owner could keep. It was an older lady's home and she was really happy when we were able to pull out her photos and her wedding rings and things like that.
Then there was another home we helped clean up on Friday and the owner was there. Turns out she and her family were trapped in the attic during the flood and the water was rising quickly and they were about to drown. She didn't know what to do and so she posted on Facebook and said that she was trapped in her attic with her family, and within 15 minutes some of her friends and neighbors were there and were able to pull her family out to safety! Pretty crazy story. The water ended up submerging her entire house. When we were cleaning up I looked on the roof and there was a huge playground set that the water had picked up and set on top of her roof because it was so high.
So yeah my week has been great. There still is a lot to do down there and we are going to continue to do all we can to help serve there. The entire stake has been on top of everything and has come in with a few other people from the community and set up a great system to get things done. On the local news it was said that the #1 contributor to donations, service, and stuff like that was from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So we are definitely going to keep it up.
I wasn't in Lexington, but a ton of members from Lexington have been over in Columbia helping out during the weekend!!! I was so happy to see all of them. It was really cool. I saw most of them at the HQ they have set up in the neighborhood and also along a few houses that I passed by.
I'm glad y'all have gotten to see all of the pictures that we have taken from the cleanup this week. There will probably be more to come because this is going to be a long project!
A lot of people talked about how Columbia reminded them of when Hurricane Katrina hit. There was a cop that I talked to for a second yesterday that said he thinks it actually is worse here from when he went over and saw what Katrina did.
Doing all of this service has been one of the most rewarding things I've gotten to do on my mission so far. I've met so many great people who are volunteering with us, I've heard insane stories about the flood, and I've never been this tired since I was first in training in Boiling Springs haha.
Seeing all of these things makes me understand exactly why these kinds of things happen. God gives many people the opportunity to help their neighbors. I honestly haven't met anyone that has been really "devastated" from their losses. Sure, most people are sad about losing all of their possessions and are a little overwhelmed with having to figure out what they will be doing in the future, but it seems to me that everyone has gotten over those things and sincerely appreciated everything that has been going on in their life right now. Every person that we've helped has been so thankful for our service and they are helping other people themselves. It's really amazing.
Elder Sean Bills