Recovery teams scouring county

Published 12:33 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Debris from storm-battered homes was still visible early this fall on Pamlico Beach Road in eastern Beaufort County. The Aug. 27 storm temporarily displaced hundreds of county residents, and many are still struggling to put their lives back together. (WDN File Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

The media spotlight has been turned off.

Federal aid workers will soon be going home.

But a coalition of faith-based workers is here for the long haul as Beaufort County continues its recovery from Hurricane Irene.

The disaster-response arm of the United Methodist Church has announced a “needs assessment” to be held Nov. 28 through Dec. 9 in the county.

Working with the Methodists, volunteers with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee will conduct a survey of family and individual needs not met by insurance coverage, the Federal Emergency Management Agency or other agencies, explained the Rev. Cliff Harvell.

A Chocowinity resident, Harvell is the disaster response coordinator for the Methodists’ Greenville district, which includes Beaufort County.

“Our main effort is in rebuilding homes,” he said, referring to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, or UMCOR.

During the two-week survey period, the Christian Reformed teams will be available to talk to storm victims at two Methodist walk-in recovery centers: Mt. Gilead Pentecostal Holiness Church, 182 W. Pantego St., Belhaven, and the United Methodist Recovery Center, 398 Main St., Aurora.

The teams also will travel door to door to meet people whose homes were affected by Irene, Harvell advised.

For more information, call 252-322-1060.

People interested in volunteering for this effort, or in making monetary contributions to this church-supported disaster relief, also may call the number listed above.

Basically, the church members want to locate residents who haven’t received the help they need from the federal government or other sources, Harvell explained. And one purpose for the survey is to find out what those needs are and how they can be resolved, he said.

Beaufort County alone saw more than 3,600 people register for FEMA assistance, Harvell pointed out, adding the entire state of Vermont – also affected by Irene – had some 5,000 FEMA registrants after the storm.

“So Beaufort County truly has some unmet needs,” he said.

Harvell, who has lived in this area since the mid-1970s, said Irene wrought the worst wind damage he’d seen here.

He said the storm left well over 100 Hyde County roofs so damaged they’ll have to be replaced – and that none of these roofs were covered by insurance.

Many people have dropped all but fire-damage coverage because of the troubled economy, Harvell reported.

“I really see this as an uphill battle and it’s going to be a tough recovery,” he said.

Harvell’s concerns were echoed by Mark Hamblin, executive director of Beaufort County United Way.

“The need post-Irene is absolutely incredible,” Hamblin said. “The really tragic thing about this is donations for the relief effort, the long-term recovery and rebuilding effort, are just unbelievably low.”

The needs assessment is one way for at least some of Irene’s victims to get a handle on troubles the storm left behind, the two indicated.