Woody Robinson said it was a miracle how he came to have Samaritan’s Purse fixing his Snowhill Drive home after Hurricane Florence.
In the last four years, Robinson has lost his mother, sister, and aunt, and lives in his Conway childhood home on his own.
After the hurricane last fall, his crawlspace flooded and eight inches of water inundated his home.
Robinson wasn’t sure how in the world he was going to fix it. He had been staying with friends in Myrtle Beach for months since his home’s air conditioning unit was flooded out as well.
A few months ago, as he drove to work, he saw a Samaritan’s Purse group fixing a home a few blocks away with few guys sitting outside having lunch. The group included Bill Carrell and Frank Antes, both employees with the international relief group.
“I’m in a hole,” Robinson said. “I had to stop and ask. I’ll never forget that day.”
Robinson said they told him that if he filled out an application and was approved, they would be glad to help him.
Carrell, who is from Colorado but is living in the area for a year to work with the organization, said he never told anyone this, but he prayed that day that God would let him fix Robinson’s home.
Carrell’s prayer was answered, as Robinson received approval and Samaritan’s Purse is fixing his home free of charge.
Robinson shared the information with his next-door neighbor, Jim Bonini, and encouraged him to apply for help too.
Now the neighbors are both getting their houses repaired at no cost.
Robinson didn’t know it at the time, but Bonini was in a rough spot, too.
“I was between a rock and a hard place. I had run out of money, I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Bonini said.
A Vietnam veteran living on his own, Bonini said he had watched his street flood three previous times.
“It got to the sidewalk before, but when I heard there was an extra 40 inches coming from North Carolina, I got out my motorcycle trailer and filled it with everything I could,” Bonini said.
Bonini didn’t leave just yet, until the police arrived.
“They said ‘I see you are all packed up’,” Bonini said. “I told them I was waiting on the water.”
The police let him know he should get moving.
“They said, ‘If you wait on the water, you’re not going to be able to leave Conway’,” Bonini said.
Bonini went to his sister’s home in Michigan, while a good friend kept him updated on his house with daily photos.
After the water receded, he returned, and with the help of some friends began clearing out the damaged parts of his home.
Robinson and Bonini both gave thanks for crews from North Conway Baptist Church, who initially helped them mud out and deal with sheetrock and sanitization after the flood waters went down.
Bonini still had air conditioning, running water and a usable bathroom, so he got an air mattress and an ice chest, and moved back into his home.
Each day he worked a little bit more on his home, with a plumber and electrician friend helping him along the way.
Until his money ran out, which is when Samaritan’s Purse stepped into the picture.
Antes, who is the project superintendent for North American Ministries for Samaritan’s Purse, said they dedicated a home in Conway last week, and are working simultaneously on Bonini’s and Robinson’s.
They also have at least seven other projects on top of those elsewhere in Horry County.
A new crew arrives each week, he said, and Robinson said he was impressed that most of them are from other states.
Last week’s crew consisted of people from as far away as Michigan and Indiana – they arrive on Sundays and leave on Fridays.
“The nice part about it is how helpful people are,” Antes said. “There was a guy in Washington state who heard about what happened here, got in his truck and drove across the country to help.”
Antes said working with Samaritan’s Purse is a chance to give back.
“Jesus went to the cross for us – we can turn around and help someone else,” Antes said.
According to their website, Samaritan’s Purse is “a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through Jesus Christ.”
Antes said it may be another month before Robinson and Bonini’s homes will be completed, but Bonini already knows what he will do when it happens.
“I’m going to hit the floor, get on my knees and thank God,” Bonini said. “We are extremely lucky.”