Lowcountry group heads north to help with Sandy damage

by Stacy

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) - Wesley Birt, 72,{}has traveled as far as Texas and Louisiana{}to help clean up after a disaster.

This week, he will expand that list to New Jersey. He and{}five others will try to make Sandy's aftermath a little easier.

"They are so glad that someone from out of state usually comes and helps them," he said. "They say, 'You came all the way from{}South Carolina and{}you've come to help us? Wow."

Birt has taken the trips with Summerville Baptist Church Disaster Relief. Group leader Ron McGuire said the Red Cross trains members. They always do the same manual work.

"We'll have{}four to{}five jobs a day, go and clean somebody's yard, cut the trees down and{}take them off their house," McGuire said.

They did it in New York after 9/11, as people couldn't move back in when their apartments had been condemned, he said.{}They also went to New Orleans after Katrina.

The group started after Hurricane Hugo hit the Lowcountry hard in 1989.

"I remember the fear, the anxiety for the sun to come up and see all the damage," Birt said.

But the sun helped him see the light. Birt said it was "wonderful" to be out in the aftermath of the storm.

"The experience of having neighbors talk to other neighbors was really something - the love that was shown and the outpouring of helping each other," Birt said.

That's why he said he joined the group: "The troops on the ground is where it really happens." He hopes to bring light to the people affected by Sandy, as well.