IN THE HIGHLY competitive Southeastern Conference, most schools can’t wait for payback.
But we’re sure the University of South Carolina, its fans and every South Carolinian would have preferred to never pay back LSU for what that school did after October’s floods here. Unfortunately, we got a chance to repay the favor just this month, and we responded in kind. The payback was heartwarming, bringing tears to more than one Louisianan, according to social media.
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LSU, of course, started it all after the historic flooding in Columbia in October. The damage was so severe that the LSU-South Carolina football game scheduled for Oct. 10 had to be moved from Williams-Brice Stadium to the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.
South Carolina was still the home team, but only technically. The USC band couldn’t go, and only a few USC fans cheered from the stands.
But by all accounts, LSU and its fans went out of their way to make the Gamecocks and their fans feel at home. The LSU band performed South Carolina’s fight song and alma mater. Money collected at the game went to help flood victims in South Carolina.
Most impressive was LSU star running back Leonard Fournette’s decision to auction off the jersey he wore during the game and donate the proceeds to South Carolina flood relief. The jersey sold for $101,000.
“We played a game today,” Mr. Fournette said after LSU beat the Gamecocks, “but the people in South Carolina right now are in need.”
Ten months later, the people of Baton Rouge are in need. Massive flooding damaged more than 60,000 homes and killed 13 people. More than 106,000 individuals and households have registered for relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Officials at USC and across the state responded quickly to the need. The response included a supply drive for flood victims.
Students, faculty, fans and others donated enough supplies to fill USC’s football equipment truck — a standard-sized tractor-trailer — as well as another cargo truck. The supplies arrived in Baton Rouge Saturday morning.
Also Saturday, the USC marching band posted a video on Facebook showing its members playing the LSU alma mater as a show of support. The band, on its practice field, formed the letters “LSU,” and a few members painted the letters on their faces. As of Wednesday, more than 1,300 comments were posted on Facebook about the video.
“If you bleed purple and gold like I do, or garnet and black, I dare you to keep a dry eye when watching this. Well done, Cocks,” one Facebook commenter wrote. “Forever joined. Who knew in less than 10 months.”
Our state’s response didn’t end with USC. For example, Columbia sent some of the water it had stored after the October floods. Several church groups also sent disaster relief teams and supplies.
In Greenwood County, an effort led by the First Baptist Church of Ninety Six resulted in nearly 75,000 pounds of supplies being sent to Louisiana on Wednesday morning. The supply drive involved four local Southern Baptist associations representing 150 churches, according to Chuck Sprouse, pastor of the Ninety Six church.
USC and the Palmetto State know firsthand the devastation caused by massive flooding. We also know the comfort and warmth created by an outpouring of support from others.
Our friends at LSU and Louisiana helped us a year ago. When tragedy struck there this month, USC and South Carolina couldn’t wait to pay back the kindness.
To paraphrase the Facebook commenter: Well done, South Carolina.