Weeks after S.C. flooding, cemetery still left flooded

RIDGEVILLE, SC – On Monday, News 2 spoke with the pastor of Canaan United Methodist Church who says with some graves still flooded, the vaults need to be re-buried and their church needs to be re-modeled.

Back on October 5th, the dramatic scene unfolded live on News 2 as a pastor pulled an unearthed casket out of flooded waters in Dorchester County.

Wayne Reeves is a pastor at New Life Ministries in Summerville, and waded through water to retrieve the vault of a woman who was buried back in May, saying if it were his parents, he would “…walk through hell or high water.”

It all unfolded at the Canaan United Methodist Church cemetery in Ridgeville.

Reverend Jack Washington is the pastor at Canaan United Methodist and explained, “They came up and they went all the way down the road. They are husband-and-wife. That’s a couple’s grave right there.”

Class leader and parishioner at Canaan United Methodist, Clement Singleton, said, “It was so full of water and there was water everywhere you couldn’t even see the tombstones.”

Back on October 5th, during a live broadcast on News 2, a pastor from Summerville waded into the water and pushed an unearthed vault more than 200 yards, as dozens of people watched from the side of Highway 61.

On live television, News 2’s Matt Alba asked Reeves, “You’re going in right now?” Reeves replied, “Right this very second.”

Thousands of people watched on TV.  In the following days, the story went viral around the world.

However, Reverend Washington said, “This is very disturbing to the family as well as the church members.”

More than a month later, as some of the attention on the church has drifted away; the pastor and parishioners are pleading and praying for help.

“When the water receded, people like you see here gathered and went in and got out all of the damage and the wet mucky stuff,” explained Rev. Washington.

Rev. Washington says the entire church was damaged.

And now, church officials say they’ve been denied relief funds from the government. Rev. Washington told News 2, “It seems to me like they’re making it as difficult as possible rather than trying to help us…So far they are telling us because we are a church we are not eligible to receive any funds from FEMA and I am very much disappointed.”

With pews pushed to the side, the church alter in storage, members of the congregation say they just want to get back inside their own church and to reclaim a final resting place for their loved ones.

Rev. Washington said, “I don’t see how we can just move them someplace else because this is the family burial plot and they need to be put back to rest right here with their families.”

On Monday, Rev. Washington said he met with the bishop in Columbia, seeking help for his church. He says before he can receive any grant money, he needs to figure out if the church is in a flood plain and have an engineer assess the damages.

Reverend Washington also told us the deceased are being taken care of by the Dorchester County Coroner’s Office until they can be re-buried at Canaan cemetery.

Church members are in desperate need of help right now and ask anyone who can to please make a donation to help them re-build their church. Click here for more information!

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