Going on a mission

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 21, 2018

Polk County couple takes van of supplies to hurricane victims

MILL SPRING — Donnie and Mary Edwards, of Mill Spring, decided last week to turn going and getting a friend from the east coast into a mission trip for victims of Hurricane Florence.

The couple decided to bring their friend, Jamie Britt, who has been blind since birth, to Polk County from Lumberton to get her out of the flooded areas of Robeson County, North Carolina. The couple said they wanted to bring Britt to Polk County so her family could concentrate on dealing with the storm.

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“Since we are going down to get Jamie, I think we should turn this into a mission trip,” said Donnie, who owns Home Heating & Air Conditioning.

Donnie started to make phone calls to his clients and, before the couple knew it, they had a van full of water, Gatorade, snacks, blankets, clothes and personal hygiene items.

Mary (left) and Donnie (right) Edwards took a mission trip last week and delivered a van full of supplies from local businesses and fire departments to Hurricane Florence victims in Lumberton. Donations are currently being taken for hurricane victims at Green Creek First Baptist Church, the Ingles in Landrum and Tryon Estates. (Submitted photo)

Local businesses, fire departments and a church quickly chipped in to help with supplies, including donations from Southern Manners restaurant in Columbus, Food Lion in Columbus, Tryon Food and Fuel, the IGA in Tryon, the Texaco V Go Market in Columbus and the Columbus and Tryon fire departments.

Mill Spring First Baptist Church let the two take the church van because there were so many supplies to take.

“When there was no more room, we headed out,” Mary said.

Once the couple hit the flood area, they Googled the nearest fire department and stopped in the town of Pembroke, where Fire Chief Timothy Ryan Locklear greeted them. He told the couple they could take some of the Polk County supplies, but the real need was at Raft Swamp.

“We unloaded a few cases of water and left for the hard-hit area,” Mary said.

Raft Swamp Fire Department is in Lumberton, and was hosting the “Cajun Navy,” which came to the area to help from Louisiana.

Mary said Raft Swamp Fire Chief John Locklear welcomed them and told them they were told supplies were coming, but the department was getting nothing.

“There must have been 20 men lined up to unload the items, and all seemed grateful,” Mary said.

With the goods delivered and successfully picking up their friend, Mary said she and Donnie kept talking on the way home of how good it made them feel to help out.

“It made us appreciate how we were spared from the storm [in Polk County],” she said.

“Thank you, everyone for helping make this mission trip possible,” Donnie said. “We couldn’t do it without you all. God has truly blessed us.”

As of Thursday, more than 40 deaths had been attributed to the hurricane, which was the wettest to ever hit North Carolina, dumping 30 inches of rain in some areas.

The city of Wilmington was cut off from the rest of the mainland by floodwaters, and Lumberton was one of the worst hit areas with flooding. The damage from the hurricane as of this week was estimated at $17 billion.

There are ways to help victims locally. The Green Creek First Baptist Church is collecting donations, as well as the Ingles in Landrum and Tryon Estates.