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Turbeville esident Betty DuBose had prayed for more than a decade for the removal of a tree from her rented property.
Though a favorite of her landlord's and his family, the 100-year-old tree meant nothing but work for DuBose, who had to frequently rake its leaves throughout the spring and winter months.
In early October, the 74-year-old church pianist got the answer to her prayers, though not in the way anyone could have imagined. Hurricane Matthew blew the arboreal atrocity to the ground.
"i suffered a heart attack last year and, after I felt strong enough, I went outside to rake the leaves, and I knew then that it would be my last time raking," she said. "I found myself crying as I was raking, saying, 'Lord, I can't do this anymore. I'm so tired and I'm not supposed to be raking."
DuBose had not remained on her property during Hurricane Matthew, when blew through Clarendon County Oct. 7-8, dumping more than a foot of rain and plunging most residents into a week of darkness. Instead, she spent the weekend with friends.
"My neighbor called me after the storm and told me that I needed to come home and look in my front yard," DuBose said. "When I came home and saw the tree, I started crying and laughing at the same time. I was glad the tree had finally come down, but I didn't know how I was going to be able to afford to clean the mess up."
A prayer for help with cleanup would be answered much more quickly than that of having the tree destroyed outright.
Horse Branch Church members joined together, youth and senior adult alike, to help clean up DuBose's yard.
"This project came about from our worship ministery; we wanted to carry it out as a service project to give back to Miss Betty," said church member Julie Hill. Hill joined several youth and other members of the church in sawing banches and removing debris from the fallen tree, which blocked DuBose's driveway, front yard and garage for nearly a month.
"I heard noises in the yard, and when I came out to look, I couldn't believe it when I saw the church members cleaning up the yard," said DuBose, who is the pianist for Horse Branch Baptist Church. "I was worried where that debris would go, and how I would be able to afford to have the debris taken away. It had made such a mess. I have really good friends in the church and I will be forever grateful to them."