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Flood waters receded to reveal new ways to serve


September 27, 2016

I remember a Friday about a year ago, when we had no idea of what was about to come. Over the course of that October weekend, Hurricane Joaquin struck the South Carolina coast and resulted in devastating flooding in the Midlands. By Sunday, it became apparent that we would not be able to deliver Meals on Wheels to our home-bound clients on Monday. We were worried about our clients though, so we split up the list of our Meals on Wheels recipients and began calling them. We found that some had been picked up by family members and weren’t home. Most everyone else was very appreciative that someone was calling to check on them.

After talking to the caterer who prepares our meals, we made the decision to deliver as many meals on Tuesday as we could. We chose to switch to frozen meals so that we could give our seniors meals for the entire week since we didn’t yet know the ramifications of the flooding.  As it turned out, that ended up being a good decision. One of our distribution sites had flooding in the area adjacent to the meal prep area, and ended up having to close the kitchen area for several months.  We moved operations for that site to our central office building without missing a beat… or maybe I should say without missing a meal.

The week after the flooding, we started receiving calls from other seniors in the community who needed food.  At the same time, we received a donation of shelf-stable foods from a Meals on Wheels program in Tennessee that wanted to help our community in a time of need.  Our own community also responded with donations of bottled water, non-perishable food, and a willingness to step up and serve our seniors in need. With this support, we were able to start delivering shelf-stable senior-friendly foods to those seniors who needed help in the aftermath of the flood.  And so our food pantry was born.

Our food pantry has grown and is still feeding those in need.  We now take boxes of food to seniors who we are evaluating for Meals on Wheels to help tide them over until they begin receiving services.  During that terrible time last year, we also learned that we are an adaptable and creative agency, able to meet the needs of seniors in our community in tough times. Out of the tragedy and devastation of that time came a service that will continue to serve seniors well into the future.  And I had confirmed what I already knew… that our volunteers and our staff are some of the most caring and engaged people around, always willing to lend a hand and help when it is needed the most, and that good things can come from bad situations.

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