Recovering From Disaster and How To Help in Spartanburg

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Do you need help after Spartanburg’s tornado and storms? Maybe you know someone who does, or maybe you’re ready to pull on the work gloves and lend a hand. Either way, Kidding Around has compiled this list of organizations on the ground offering assistance in Spartanburg. You can volunteer with these groups, donate, or receive the assistance you need.

We’ll be updating this piece as we learn of additional opportunities, so please let us know if we missed something!

Storm Damage from Tornado February 2020

On Thursday, February 6th an EF1 tornado brought winds of an estimated 110 miles per hour with it to Spartanburg. At approximately 10:30 am, the tornado touched down and traveled for 10.26 miles before it dissipated leaving behind downed trees, destroyed roofs, loss of power and more. The destruction was coupled with a flash flood warning that had begun in the early morning hours. Thankfully, the storm didn’t cause any fatalities.

Almost immediately, videos and photos of the destruction starting popping up on social media. While most of us were still taking shelter, we were watching what was happening in the Westside area of Spartanburg. One of the first posts I saw about what was happening was posted by Kidding Around reader Kody Ward. The local dad of three was trapped inside the Dorman Walmart, not sure about what would be left outside after the storm passed.

It was very scary. I was shopping and I knew that we had bad weather so as soon as the lights went out I ran to the center of the store. A Walmart employee told me to go to the back. I argued at first because I’ve always heard center is the safest place but eventually went to the back with everyone else. As soon as I got to the back I heard the wind and rain and knew it was above us. I held on tight to my twins and thought of every possible thing that could go wrong and just loved on them. When it was over we heard there was another tornado on its way and all I wanted to do was find out about my oldest and go home. But we stayed and rode out the other warning. Walmart passed out water and sippy cups to kids and adult ( water for adults lol no sippy lol) . I even had a Walmart employee call my sons school ( because phone service was going in and out) to find out if he was ok. They then told us there was another one and we all just wanted to leave. They told us we could leave but couldn’t come back inside. So I asked if I could at least find out if I had a vehicle left and if I did I’d leave but if I didn’t I needed to come back inside . So they said I could and I went out and seen so much damage. The cart stall beside me was twisted and my vehicle was fine. So I loaded my twins and we headed for home. I’ve been through a couple of tornadoes and having your kids with you makes the situation much worse.I called my wife in the middle of it all and told her I loved her and that I would protect our kids with everything in me. I only realized later that I basically told her bye.The amount of damage that I have seen has definitely made me realize how lucky we were and how things could have gone tragically wrong. It’s made me thankful for everyday and definitely has been a reminder to put the phone down and spend every second with people I love.

Kody Ward – Kidding Around Reader

As soon as the wind died down, the residents of Spartanburg stepped up.

When the sirens went off, a K4 class was in the middle of a field trip to The Children’s Museum of the Upstate – Spartanburg. The staff of the museum remained calm and kept the kids entertained, never letting the kids know what was going on right outside. When the tornado warning was canceled, the problem of a missed lunch arose.

Fabian Mata, the owner of the neighboring restaurant Nacho Taco, came to the rescue donating lunch for the class.

We were scheduled to be at the museum from 9:00am-10:00am on Thursday. When the tornado warnings kept coming our principal was directed to stop all bus transportation until she received further word. We usually eat lunch at 10:45 at school but had planned be eating closer to 11:30 when we returned on field trip day. As time went on we knew that our students were hungry although we had not had one complaint. They were very occupied with the activities that the staff at the children’s museum had them doing. The kids never knew that it was storming outside. Once we realized that we may be there for a little longer a staff member from the museum volunteered to go walk over to Nacho taco to see if they would be willing to give chips and salsa to our students. I commented that nacho taco had help them out in the past with a guest that was nauseous and needed something. To our surprise she came back with cheese quesadillas which was much more filling than the chips would’ve been. I am so grateful for Fabian and his staff because I’m sure that they were under their own pressure from the storm. We even had a student with us who is a type one diabetic and although he was being cared for it could have been a bad situation if he had not gotten food. (Fabian was not aware of this student) I am so thankful to the staff at the children’s museum as well as Nacho taco for stepping up and providing for our students. The staff at the museum even stayed with us after closing and waited to go home until we were allowed to travel by bus again. I’m sure they were concerned about their own families but they made sure that we were provided for first. I’ve always known that Spartanburg is a great community and we always hear “love where you live” but it is definitely more meaningful to me now that I have experienced our community stepping up in this time of need.

Jennifer R. – K4 Teacher, Cooley- Springs Fingerville Elementary School

This was just the first of the stories about the residents of Spartanburg coming together to help each other out. Residents armed with chainsaws coming to the rescue of people trapped in their neighborhoods behind downed trees, restaurants offering meals to those without power and more.

Helping Hands

Here at Kidding Around we’ve had so many of our readers reach out asking how they can help. It’s one of the reasons we love being a part of this community. Local and national organizations are pulling together to provide assistance in the recovery here.

The American Red Cross is operating a shelter in Spartanburg for people who need shelter after the storm. The shelter closed on Monday and then reopened the same day after Red Cross officials spoke to local disaster relief organizations.

  • Getting Help – The Shelter is located at 200 Evangel Road in Spartanburg.
  • Helping – Those wishing to volunteer or donate can do so at Red Cross online.

Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief is sending its disaster relief teams out into the area to clear debris and try to contain structural damage by tarping roofs.

  • Getting Help – For homeowners with little to no insurance, please contact the local disaster relief team at 864.804.7491 requests are handled depending on need and volunteer availability.
  • Helping – The local team is accepting volunteers at Samaritan’s volunteer site. Volunteers wishing to help with chainsaw work, roof tarping, debris clean-up and flood clean-up are especially needed.

Atheists Helping The Homeless will be holding their monthly giveaway this Sunday, February 16th at the Hub City Farmers Market from 10 am to 12 pm.

  • Getting Help – Anyone who needs toiletries, clothing, non-perishable foods, and a hot meal. You don’t have to be homeless to get help. If you need help, you show up and take what you need.
  • Helping – Donations can be purchased through Amazon or Dollar Tree through the AHH Spartaburg website.

Spartanburg School District Six is collecting gift cards to help district families impacted by the storm.

  • Getting Help – District Six families can contact the school district at 864.576.4212
  • The district is doing a gift card drive
  • Families can receive free meals through the district including dinner.
  • Helping – Gift card drop off sites are located at The District Six office – 1390 Cavalier Way, Roebuck, Jesse S. Bobo Elementry – 495 Powell Mill Road, Spartanburg. Gift card donations will be excepted February 10th – 14th.

Spartanburg County Emergency Management is providing debris relief for residents who can not afford it.

  • Getting Help – To qualify you must have debris on your personal property (rentals are excluded), and not be able to afford the service. If you meet these requirements please call 864.595.5368 to be matched with a disaster relief agency.

The Salvation Army of Spartanburg

  • Getting Help – For assistance with food, clothing and furniture replacement please contact 864.576.6670
  • Giving Help – For volunteer opportunities, please contact [email protected] OR to donate gently worn clothes, household items, and furniture stop by the Family Store at 1529 John B White Sr Boulevard.

United Way of The Piedmont

  • Getting help – Residents needing assistance cal dial 211 or log on to http://www.sc211.org to be connected to a local organization with assistance.
  • Giving Help – A list of local non-profits can be found online.

Everyone here at Kidding Around would like to say thank you to all the awesome readers who stepped up to help friends and strangers. It’s times like this that make us really appreciate the slogan “Love Where You Live”.

We will be updating this as more things are announced. If we missed something that you are aware of please let us know in the comments.

About the Author
Melanie is a native New Yorker, who landed in the Upstate by way of Florida. She is the mom to two awesome kids, and the three of them love going on adventures! She enjoys sharing her finds with friends and loves even more that she can share them with Kidding Around readers! She can be found on Instagram @figuringthisoutdotcom

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