NEXT STEPS: County-wide hotline established for needs and donations

Published 8:12 pm Monday, September 17, 2018

BEAUFORT COUNTY — Now that Hurricane Florence has passed, recovery efforts for Beaufort County are beginning in full. At the heart of those efforts, a newly established hotline will serve as the nerve center for disaster relief moving forward, and those seeking relief or seeking to give help need to write down one phone number — 252-495-6040.

This is the phone number that will serve as Beaufort County Disaster Relief for the foreseeable future. This hotline will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, by volunteers of Virginia Baptist Disaster Response, who will be operating out of Second Baptist Church on Fifth Street in Washington.

The task of the group will be complex, yet critical — connecting those who have and those who need.

“The goal is to get all the organizations that want to donate resources, skills or labor, and people who have a need to call this number,” emergency services specialist Lisa Williams said. “The person answering this phone will take all the needs and all the resources being offered and try to match them together.”

If your business, church or organization has resources, donations or manpower that can assist the citizens of Beaufort County — call 252-495-6040.

If you are in need of assistance, or your organization needs supplies, donations or manpower to meet the needs in your community — call 252-495-6040.

Representatives of Beaufort County Emergency Services, county and area agencies, local municipalities, churches and relief organizations met to coordinate and strategize on Monday afternoon.

“After Irene, we were inundated with help to the point of being overwhelmed,” Lisa Williams told those assembled. “Resources were not being used as efficiently as they could have been, and that was because everybody was running rouge.”

Having a centralized point for fielding needs and resources will help prevent such logistical problems in the wake of Florence.

“We have an outpouring of love for our county, and want to use that in the best way,” Williams said.

When seeking financial aid for loans and assistance, Williams said that Beaufort County residents should contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 800-621-3362 or TTY, call 800-462-7585. Applying for relief with FEMA is an important step for those seeking assistance, as this can be a prerequisite for applying for other types of assistance.

Eventually, FEMA will establish a Disaster Recovery Center in Beaufort County where applicants can speak with representatives about their losses and apply for federal aid. While that location has yet to be determined, more information is forthcoming.