Faces of the flood: Shaw AFB Airmen support community

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Diana M. Cossaboom
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Hurricane Joaquin loomed near the East Coast, bringing a storm that dumped record breaking rainfall on South Carolina for six days, causing severe flooding across the state.

Organizations on Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., gathered to assist the local community, providing disaster relief to those affected by the flood.

According to Sumter United Ministries, more than 7,000 people in Sumter, S.C., applied for aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and over 600 homes were devastated by the flood with over 250 of those homes in need extensive repairs.

"This is our chance as Airmen to give back to the Sumter community," said Senior Master Sgt. Jacob Peeterse, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron maintenance superintendent. "Sumter does wonderful things for us here on base and the chance to give back to those who are in need cannot be understated."

Shaw organizations are working with multiple disaster relief groups including Sumter United Ministries, American Red Cross, and the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Recovery teams.

"We recognized there was a need for help in our community," said Staff Sgt. Carlos Ortiz Castillo, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning technician. "(We) wanted to reach out and do something for the community and the people who have lost their belongings and give a little hope back to them to assure them that we are here to help."

The Air Force Sergeant's Association and 20th CES HVAC shop Airmen, just a few of the many organizations that participated in relief efforts, provided approximately 85 Airmen who assisted for more than 750 hours clearing out mold to help begin renovations of homes in the Sumter community.

The Airmen who volunteered did mostly demolition work, removing any part of the house that could harbor mold. The main focus was to leave the homes mold free and ready to re-build, said Peeterse.

Airmen assigned to Shaw Air Force Base continue to provide assistance to the affected families in what will possibly be an extended effort to return their devastated houses to homes.