Community Builder: Midlands woman mobilizes flood response

Updated: Nov. 26, 2015 at 7:00 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - On this Thanksgiving, we're giving thanks for the many people who came together to help those impacted by last month's historic floods. That includes a Midlands woman who made it her mission to get help to those whose homes were literally underwater.

It was in the parking lot of The Wired Goat in Chapin that WIS and Mungo Homes got to surprise Joanna Derrick. Her aunt, Carolyn Cook, nominated her.

"Joanna and Mike have been through a very rough year," Cook said. "They had a lot of generous people give to them, and she had expressed that she wanted to be able to give it back some day."

Earlier this year, Joanna's husband, Mike, was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer. Joanna said with the way the community rallied around them, when the floods hit, they had to pitch in to help.

"The flood, unfortunately and fortunately, provided the perfect way for us to pay everybody back for all the good and help that they gave us," Derrick said. "We had to do it. There was no way not to do it."

So Mike, who's now in remission, and Joanna's flood response started with a Facebook post.

"A friend of mine, Laticia Gonzalez, shared a status of a girl named Misty Jones who happened to be at the Willow Creek Apartments off of Fernandina Road," Derrick said. "She basically was pleading and crying out for help. You know, 'Come help us, nobody's here. The Red Cross isn't here, FEMA isn't here, we're standing out in the rain, we have nowhere to go.'"

So they jumped in Mike's massive truck and began helping person by person.

"It turned out that our main purpose there was to move people and their possessions that were salvageable out of their apartments and either to storage units or their new residence," Derrick said.

Joanna shared the needs of Willow Creek tenants on Facebook, and says people responded instantly.

"People would just show up with $50 and hand them to me, and food," Derrick said.

Derrick said this lasted for several days.

"We would start at 8 in the morning and be done by 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. It was kind of our job," Derrick said.

But in accepting her Community Builder hard hat, Joanna says she can't take all the credit. She's grateful for every person that showed up to help.

"It was very exponential that's for sure! Thanks to social media, Facebook, that's how everything began," Derrick said. "That and God."

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