August 29, 2006
On this one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we remember the ones who reached out across the miles to help storm victims. Among them are our local churches.
One church went to the Gulf and brought 18 Katrina survivors back to a small community they had never heard of: Aiken.
One man who came stayed, and now works for the church that he says saved his life.
Robert Woods' unbelievable journey brought him and his mother four states away...and he says there is no place in the world he would rather be than a part of a community that helped him through his darkest days.
Robert Woods is a true survivor. In just 365 days since Katrina struck, he has a new home, a new job, and a new life.
"I can understand it now. I appreciate life better now. The Lord fixed it so that St. John's came at the right time," he told News 12.
It was a meeting of fate...one that woods and Neal Flowers say god planned. Flowers and others from St. John's Methodist in Aiken went to the shelter where Robert and his 85-year-old mother were living.
"Must have had seven to eight hundred people in that place and no privacy," Woods recalled. "Bed after bed. We slept on cots, and it wasn't a good feeling."
The church offered a chance at a new life back in Aiken.
"I tell you, I made up my mind in a hurry. I told my mom, we ain't got no choice, we got to go and get out of here. We can't live here."
And the rest is history.
"We got everything loaded up and we headed out, then we stopped and had lunch and that was real nice."
Woods and his mom came with sixteen others to live at first in the church's gym.
"We lived here about four months."
Some left to move back, or to other states.
Three families stayed. Robert now works as a custodian at the church.
"I just thank St. John's and Mr. Neal and thank the Lord who laid it on their hearts to come pick us up."
Robert is working hard to buy a home in Aiken for him and his mother.
The church had given the Woods six months help with housing and all their bills. Since then, he's been self-sufficient.