Greenwood resident James Long recently took it upon himself to launch a fundraising campaign for The Miracle League, which for the past decade has provided children with special needs to play baseball but is in need of a new field.
This week, Long – owner of Lakelands Overhead Door – will take part in another venture he hopes yields miraculous results: Driving a convoy to a Wilmington, North Carolina area church to prepare fresh chicken for National Guard troops, volunteers and evacuees from the punishing rains and winds of Hurricane Florence.
Long, along with LifeTime Group owner Steve Cribbs and Kevin Prater of Sports Break, are organizing the relief trip with one goal in mind: To comfort those in harm’s way through the power of giving.
“You’re helping people you don’t even know, and that’s so important. It’s a real humanitarian thing to do,” said Long, who last year traveled 1,000 miles to assist people in Houston with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Cribbs and Long plan to leave late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, traveling to the church from Cribbs’ Myrtle Beach home. Accompanying them will be 3,000 pieces of chicken, some locally donated supplies and cash contributions.
North Carolina officials said Tuesday that flooding from Florence is far from over, as is the case in areas along some of South Carolina’s largest rivers, such as the Pee Dee and Waccamaw.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said 16 rivers are at major flood stage Tuesday with an additional three forecast to peak Wednesday and Thursday.
He said he knows for many North Carolinians it feels like “a nightmare that just won’t end.”
About 10,000 people are in shelters across the state and around 343,000 are without power. Cooper said first responders have reported rescuing and evacuating more than 2,200 people and about 575 animals.
Officials say more than 1,100 roads are closed, 255 of those being primary roads. The state’s two major interstates, I-40 and I-95, are closed in many locations.
Florence is also being blamed for 26 deaths across North Carolina.
Cribbs, who solicited donations for this trip through Facebook earlier this week, said first responders are confronting an overwhelming situation. Setting up an industrial cooker and serving them fresh food, he said, is the least that can be done.
“They may lay down just long enough to get some shut eye, and they’re back at it,” Cribbs said.