Pinewood man moves back into home devastated by flood


It has been nearly two years since Curtis Billie's home near Pinewood became uninhabitable when rains inundated South Carolina in October 2015, he said.

Though he was able to move into his late mother's house next door, the 64-year old Billie longed to get back into his own place.

Thanks to the Long Term Recovery Group and a collaborative of volunteer organizations, Billie returned to living in his own home this past week.

"It's so good to be back here," Billie said. "I lived here for 38 years."

Billie said he appreciated the work the volunteers did to rehabilitate his home.

"I never thought I would be back here," he said. "They helped me good."

Patty Patterson said Long Term Recovery Group was formed to assist those affected by the 2015 flood and Hurricane Matthew last year.

She said the group has worked with local government agencies and such nonprofits as United Way of Sumter, Lee and Clarendon Counties; the Salvation Army; Flood Hub; and the American Red Cross. Also helping to make Billie's return home possible were faith-based disaster-relief organizations of Presbyterians, Baptists and United Methodists.

"We have many volunteers coming from out of state," Patterson said. "We have more than 500 volunteers who have donated in excess of 20,000 hours."

She said the volunteers have done everything from roof repairs to completely gutting houses.

Even though the recovery group has assisted more than 90 families, Patterson said many more still need assistance.

"Funding is still a challenge," she said.

Anyone wishing to donate to the recovery efforts can call United Way of Sumter, Lee and Clarendon Counties at (803) 773-5555, she said.

Billie was clearly proud of his refurbished home, which has a new metal roof, new floors, new ceilings, new wiring and two new window air conditioners.

Patterson said it was very rewarding to see Billie move back into his home.

"My birthday was last week, and I got to sleep on my own couch," he said. "There is nothing more comfortable than your own couch."