Fulfilling their missions

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Contributing Editor

American Red Cross staff and volunteers, in cooperation with Salvation Army staff and volunteers, continue to respond to Beaufort County residents affected by last week’s storms and subsequent flooding.
“We’ve got so much need here we’ve sort of set up a satellite office,” said Dan Owens, a Red Cross volunteer at the Greater Pamlico Area Chapter of the American Red Cross office on North Market Street in downtown Washington on Monday morning.
Owens said Wilmington is home to the Red Cross’ disaster-assistance operations in eastern North Carolina, but the severity of the needs in Beaufort, Hyde, Washington, Tyrrell and Bertie counties resulted in the satellite office for disaster-assistance operations being set up in Washington.
Located in the local Red Cross office for several days, the satellite office relocated to the former Tassels building on Main Street in downtown Washington on Monday.
At least 35 volunteers and Red Cross staff have been working out of the local Red Cross office, Owens said.
“It’s still growing,” Owens said of the number of volunteers showing up at that office to help.
Melanie McDonough, with the Greensboro chapter of the Red Cross and serving as the public-affairs officer for the Red Cross disaster-response operations in Washington, said the Red Cross is coordinating with other disaster-response agencies “to make sure they’re getting to everyone.” She said the Red Cross and other agencies such as the Salvation Army want to “make sure they reach everybody who needs help.”
McDonough said more volunteers are needed to assist at the local Red Cross office.
On Monday. Owens said, the Red Cross had two disaster-response teams in Beaufort County, two teams in Bertie County and one team in Hyde County, one team in Washington County and one team in Tyrrell County.
Blackhawk Fornelli, a Red Cross volunteer, said Red Cross teams on Monday were helping residents along Voice of America Road west of Washington, at a trailer park on N.C. Highway 33 between Chocowinity and Greenville and two adjacent trailer parks off River Road.
Teams were responding today because they “couldn’t get in there before,” Fornelli said.
The trailers suffered floor damage because of floodwaters, he said.
As of Monday morning, there were about 400 people the Red Cross had not been able to get to because of floodwaters, he said.
The teams, where possible, have been delivering snacks, bottled water and cleanup kits that include items such as mops and bleach. The distribution of bleach to those whose homes have been flooded is important because the bleach is needed “for keeping the mold down,” Fornelli said.
The disaster-assistance teams will remain in the region through Thursday or Friday, Fornelli said. Client-casework teams will remain longer to distribute funds to people affected by the storms and who qualify for assistance, he noted. On Mondays, the teams were assessing damage left by the storms and helping people with cleanup operations.
For those forced from their homes by the storms and subsequent flooding and unable to return home yet, the Red Cross has two shelters open, one at the Orr Masonic lodge at the corner of East Third and North Bonner streets in Washington and the other at the Bertie County Council of Aging, 103 W. School St., Windsor.
Lorrie Beach, director of the local Red Cross chapter, said there are plenty of people seeking help.
“The phones have been ringing,” she said. “At one point, I had the regular phone up to one ear and a cell phone up to the other ear.”
As of Monday morning, the Salvation Army’s Washington unit had served 465 meals from its mobile kitchen, said Lt. Chris Lyles with the Salvation Army’s Washington unit. Meals continue to be served to people in the shelter at the Orr Masonic Lodge and residents on Voice of America Road.
About eight people have been working rotating shifts in the mobile kitchen, which is manned by three people when in operations, said Lyles, commanding officer of the Salvation Army center in Washington.
“We’ve been out since the flooding on Thursday night,” Lyles said.
The local unit’s social-services office at 112 E. Seventh St., Washington, is open. It’s providing clothing and “essentials” that people displaced from their homes may need, Lyles said.
“Until we know the needs are met, we will still go out,” Lyles said.
Local residents needing disaster-related assistance should contact the Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.