Sumter, S.C.—A Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief team spent part of their week helping a veteran who rescued 18 flood victims in his neighborhood.
Amos Tolson, an Air Force master sergeant and aircraft mechanic and a resident of Sumter, S.C., spent the weekend of the major floods across the coastal Carolina area, rescuing 18 people, six dogs, five cats and retrieving multiple prescription medications in his neighborhood on Tanglewood Drive.
“There was really no help from emergency relief teams, because the roads were all flooded out. They couldn’t get to you,” Tolson said.
“When they did show up, this is not a flood ready area, so they weren’t equipped,” he continued.
“A lot of the emergency responders didn’t have boats. The county sheriff’s department cleaned out the local outdoor place. They took all the boats they could get, but it still wasn’t enough.”
“The amount of damage that was here, I mean, it was biblical!” he exclaimed.
The first people that Tolson rescued were his friend’s elderly parents. He began his rescues in a paddle boat, before borrowing a friend’s boat for more rescues.
“It was Monday morning before I got to sit down. I was still pulling people out,” Tolson said.
By late Sunday afternoon, there wasn’t a dry piece of clothing or dry towel in his house.
“My wife dried everybody that came through,” he recalled. “Neighborhood kids were all in my living room playing with my 3-year-old, trying to keep everyone happy and warm and safe.”
Tolson, whose house was one of the last to flood, had about nine people staying there before water rose too high and people had to be moved to a local high school.
“I have had a couple trips to the Desert, Iraq, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Korea and Kosovo. I’ve seen it, and I’ve done it,” Tolson recounted.
“I’ve never done it at home though,” he said. “Overseas, you’ve got an option to lay back. But there was no option; these people are my family.”
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief units spent time working on Tolson’s home after he had spent so much time taking care of others.
“Instead of taking care of his personal belongings and his family, he took care of everybody else in their neighborhood,” observed Bob Perkins, a Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer.
“This man has served so many times, 20 years in the service. He has been in combat, he’s lost buddies in combat, but he said this was the most stressful part of his life,” Perkins said.
“The fact that God brought help to him, he just couldn’t believe it,” Perkins added.
Disaster Relief teams spent the day taking up his floor that was mostly undamaged to expose a damaged subflooring and removing items from his attic to a portable storage unit.
“He just broke down. I think he’d had enough,” Perkins said. “He started talking about how his faith was all he had to rely on at this point. He couldn’t believe that God brought us to him, after he had helped so many other people,” Perkins said.
The DR volunteers then prayed with Tolson. “I think it renewed his faith. It just lifted him up. He’s a whole different person today than he was yesterday,” Perkins said.
In addition to the DR team that helped Tolson, another flood recovery team, a feeding team, and several chaplains from Kentucky are working with other flood victims in South Carolina. For more information on how you can support relief efforts, visit www.kybaptist.org/dr. (WR)