Disaster relief continues for tornado victimsPublished 9:23pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014
In the wake of a devastating EF3 tornado in April, many individuals and organizations have reached out to help those Beaufort County residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed. This weekend, the outreach continues through the services of St. Clair’s Church of Christ of Bath.
Saturday, mobile disaster intake centers will be set up at two locations in the county: 956 Whichards Beach Road, from 10 a.m. to noon, and at the entrance of Woolard Lane, just off Asbury Church Road, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
St. Clair’s is offering a different take on disaster relief in that tornado victims can submit a “wish list” of damaged or destroyed items that need to be replaced: washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, any other appliance, and extending out to personal items people can’t afford, like eyeglasses.
“We are actually also purchasing (items), because we do have the funds, for instance we’ve purchased — we bought a lawn mower for someone,” said Glenn Waters, St. Clair’s disaster relief coordinator. “That’s the first time that’s ever come up on the want list.”
St. Clair’s Church of Christ has long provided relief in times of disaster: in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene’s devastation in 2011, church volunteers provided similar support to those affected. This time around, disaster services volunteers have really had to work to reach out to victims, as lists of victims’ names and needs have not been provided in the absence of assistance from government agencies.
“When FEMA refused to put us down as a disaster area, it really created some hurdles. I mean, we’ve had to go out and literally hunt for these people ourselves,” Waters said. “Word is beginning to get out and we’ve had some phone calls and we’re hoping this event on Saturday is going to attract some attention too.”
Through the Church of Christ/Christian Church mission, St. Clair’s officials applied for an International Disaster Emergency Services (IDES) grant and received $25,000 in assistance from the international organization. Waters said he was encouraged that the letter indicated the funds were an initial award and more could be available.
Waters also said that with support from a Pamlico County Church, financial support from other entities in Craven County and donations from local residents and individuals, the church has collected household supplies and other items at the church on N.C. Highway 99, just east of Bath and has given away roughly 2/3 of the supplies.
Another aspect to St. Clair’s work, is that no one connected with the relief project is salaried or compensated financially in any manner — it’s strictly volunteer.
“This means that every dollar that is contributed to the Relief Fund actually goes to the benefit of someone’s unmet needs,” Waters said.
And the help of the IDES grant, however, St. Clair’s Disaster Relief Program is providing for those unmet needs: on Tuesday, Waters went to pay the utility bill of a Woolard Lane resident whose belongings were lost in the tornado — including his eyeglasses, which forced him to cut down on his hours driving a logging truck. As a result, his employment was terminated.
“We’re not going to let them shut his electricity off because he had a cruddy boss man,” Waters said.
Waters said the St. Clair’s program will also be dropping a check off at an eye care center to pay for the man’s new prescription glasses.
The assistance offered by St. Clair’s is open to any resident affected by the April tornadoes, but they do have to provide identification and proof of where they lived. In order to make official application for assistance, the head of household and/or name of family member filing the form must have two items to show proof of residency at the damaged location and an official state or other government issued photo ID, according to a press release from the organization. If the ID contains the correct address information, this may serve as one source. Mail items or utility or water bills will also qualify.
Saturday’s mobile disaster intake centers are part of an ongoing relief effort, Waters said. Those planning to attend Saturday should watch for posted signs for directions and look for the white Church van for the registration center, Waters said.
“They can give us their Christmas ‘wish list’ and we will go until the $25,000 has been met, and if there are still needs, we will apply for more funds,” Waters said.
For more information, contact Waters at 252-923-0491 or 252-944-3131.