Washington Salvation Army brings hope to Ocracoke after blackout

Published 6:24 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2017

When Bruce Rabon traveled to Ocracoke earlier this month, he thought he’d stay for a weeklong pastoral event.

But, Rabon, Washington’s Salvation Army Corp captain, did not stay long, as he was evacuated from the island just like thousands of others after a construction company accidentally caused an island-wide power outage.

“I got to see it in full swing,” Rabon said of the evacuation.

Rabon said he then knew he had to reach out a helping hand — he and three others traveled to Ocracoke for a community meeting last Tuesday to help provide a hot meal of barbeque and hamburgers to the island residents.

Rabon said as soon as people started to lose power, he contacted the county manager and told him the Salvation Army was available.

“The manager approached us Monday afternoon. We went shopping. Tuesday morning, we were on the ferry at 7 a.m.,” Rabon said.

Rabon said different agencies that serve the area attended the community meeting, both to help provide a meal and lift island spirits. He said the residents of Ocracoke were very appreciative.

“They were ecstatic. I don’t know if it was a good hot meal — there were very few restaurants open — or if it was just the fact that someone was there to show that people cared about them,” Rabon said.

Rabon said even though many people view Ocracoke as a “vacation spot,” it was rewarding to see the community band together to help the people who actually make a living on the island. Rabon said an extended period without power in the peak of tourist season caused revenue dips for island workers.

“The big misconception in Ocracoke is people think that’s where the rich people are.

You’ve got to understand that, yes, people vacation over there, but you’ve got to think about the folks that are behind the scenes, actually taking care of the hotels and working in the restaurants,” Rabon said.

Rabon said while he has no active plans to return to Ocracoke, as the power has since been restored, he and his team would not hesitate to travel to the island if it was necessary.

“If Hyde County calls us and they want us back over then we will be back on the ferry,” he said.

However, Rabon remains determined to offer financial assistance to island workers who experienced a revenue loss due to the power outage. The Salvation Army is now accepting monetary donations marked for Ocracoke. Donations can be sent to The Salvation Army, PO Box 877, Washington, NC 27889.

Rabon said he and his Salvation Army team aim to help people — anyone and anywhere.

“We serve six counties. Anytime we’re needed we’ll be wheels on the ground rolling to help,” Rabon said.

For more information, contact Bruce Rabon at 252-721-8510 or email bruce.rabon@uss.salvationarmy.org.