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Long-term recovery committee still addressing needs from Florence

It’s been seven and a half months since Hurricane Florence swept through eastern North Carolina, leaving a path of devastation in its wake. While the immediate response to the storm was swift, the recovery that followed continues today, thanks to the support of organizations that have made up the county’s Long-term Recovery Committee.

“All these organizations worked together,” Beaufort County Emergency Services Specialist Lisa Williams said.

LOGISTICS

With response and recovery, there are a lot of moving pieces. Helping keep tabs on who needed what, a number of faith-based organizations had key roles in providing the logistical support for recovery.

At the forefront of that effort, Virginia Baptist Disaster Relief offered to serve as the clearinghouse for those in need and those who were seeking to provide aid. The group staffed a special hotline for disaster relief in the wake of the storm. Aiding in the follow-up, Lutheran Services and Catholic Charities continue to offer casework support for families impacted during the storm.

SHELTER

Before Florence hit, The American Red Cross played an instrumental role in providing shelter from the storm, staffing emergency shelters at Washington High School and P.S. Jones Middle School. Afterwards, when families needed a place to stay after the storm, Beaufort County DSS was able to help those who had been displaced.

For those whose homes were damaged during the storm, United Methodist Disaster Response continues to be a vital resource for repairing and revitalizing homes. With 83 clients still in need here in Beaufort County, the group is in some cases still serving clients from Hurricane Matthew, and is in need of volunteers. Those wishing to volunteer can contact Donna Brander at 910-633-8800.

BASIC NEEDS

After Florence passed, some lost all the food in their refrigerators. Others were out of work for weeks at a time or lost income during the storm. To help provide for their needs, Eagle’s Wings Food Pantry went to great lengths to make sure local people had plenty to eat. Likewise, the Beaufort County Health Department and Beaufort County Department of Social Services took steps to help cover emergency food costs.

The Mid-East Area Agency on Aging specifically focused on the needs of senior citizens after the storm and has assisted with food needs and light bills for seniors in Beaufort County. The Society of St. Vincent Depaul also provided assistance with food and energy costs.

Gift cards to help with immediate needs were also distributed through various local organizations immediately following the storm. The Julius Peppers Foundation alone provided $5,000 in gift cards through the Beaufort County United Way, which has served as a clearinghouse for financial donations during the recovery process.

Acre Station Meat Farm also provided $500 in gift cards after the storm that were in turn used by Eagle’s Wings Food Pantry to provide food for those in need.

HEAT

A major need after Florence, with the chill of winter settling in on Beaufort County, was for heat. Emergency heaters were a temporary solution — funding through United Way helped secure heaters that were loaned out through Emergency Services. Those who no longer need those heaters are encouraged to return them.

Also contributing to those efforts, The Salvation Army was able to secure funding to help supplement the cost of replacing ductwork, and more than a dozen Beaufort County families got their HVAC units up and running thanks to help from the organization.

TRANSPORTATION

From bringing people to the shelters set up by Red Cross to providing transportation to those in need after the storm, Beaufort Area Transit System also played a role in recovery. In some cases, the agency provided a way for medical patients to get to their doctor appointments.

HOW TO HELP

While Williams acknowledges that feel-good element of loading the cars up with supplies after a disaster, the best way to help is to write a check to any of the organizations involved in long-term recovery, or to volunteer with local groups that are doing the work on the ground.

To learn more about how to become involved with long-term recovery, call Beaufort County Emergency Services at 252-946-2046.