Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men Emergency Assistance and Food Pantry
Program – along with the Interfaith Community Outreach and Dare County
Social Services – has been a supporting player for Hurricane Matthew
recovery efforts since the storm hit Hatteras Island on Oct. 9.
number of national and well-known organizations have also been present
in Hatteras and Frisco villages after the storm, assisting with efforts
to get back to normal.
the director of the United Methodist Men, Dennis Carroll, attests that
the locals themselves also deserve a lot of acclaim for helping with
the rebuilding efforts post-Hurricane Matthew.
Ellon Ballance deserves all the credit in the world -- and all the
folks in the village, they pull together... So the Methodist Men are
down there as support, because the people do so much for themselves.”
Hatteras Island is nearing the two-month mark after the hurricane, and
some of the assistance available has started to dwindle – or will be
disappearing soon. But even then the Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men
will still be hard at work ensuring that local folks can receive the
help they need.
the storm, we are considered the last resort,” says Carroll. “We’re
here long-term, so generally we let FEMA, the Salvation Army, and the
other agencies come and do their work, and we assist with the urgent
our real mission is to be here long term when everyone else is gone,”
he says. “We help when the unemployment kicks in or for the people who
were left out from agency help, and so forth. We will probably be
working for a year or more after the storm, when all the other agencies
are long gone. [This is why] we’re often the last resort.”
organization still has more than 100 people on a list – a list that at
one point was roughly 200 names long - that are in need of assistance.
as previous hurricanes have readily demonstrated, sometimes help is
required months, or even a year or more, after a massive storm event
some cases, it’s merely a waiting game to see what insurance providers
and/or FEMA will provide. Once those total calculations come in, the
United Methodist Men can step in and fill in the gaps.
But in other cases, it’s simply because the work required to rebuild simply takes a very long time to complete.
biggest difficulty will be when the temporary housing goes away, and
people’s houses are not yet ready to be occupied,” says Carroll. “A
number of people are in motels and donated off-season rental
properties, or staying with relatives, but a lot of that will go away
because a lot of the FEMA dislocation allowance will go away after
houses that people have generously donated for off-season may go away
too for the spring, and if we can’t get all of the insurance settlement
and reconstruction going quickly, at some point there will be a crunch
or a squeeze for housing.”
obstacle which delays the overall process is the simple fact that
Hatteras Islanders aren’t traditionally the kind of people who readily
ask for help, regardless of how bad a situation is.
older generation, especially in Hatteras, has a heritage of
self-sufficiency,” says Carroll. “So we’re still finding people who are
reported by friends and neighbors, who don’t report their own needs,
and who suffer in silence, so to speak.”
“We always hear ‘Someone else needs [help] worse than I do.’ It’s a very common response.’”
this self-sufficiency, even under dire circumstances, is not a new
Matthew-related phenomenon either, as Carroll can attest from previous
found one older lady in Salvo, almost two years after Hurricane Irene
in 2011, who didn’t have a real floor in her house,” says Carroll. “We
finally took care of it, but we didn’t know about it for a long time.
And we expect to find more of those cases [after Matthew.]”
can be argued that the organization is well equipped to step in for
these complicated situations, --and is well received -- simply because
of its long presence on the island.
Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men is a 55-person strong organization
that has been around for 38 years, with members from all faiths and
organization is well recognized because of its longstanding reputation
to apply assistance where it’s needed most, and to use 100 percent of
funds received to help the needy. “We have zero administrative
expenses,” says Carroll. “We pay for the electricity for the food
pantry ourselves, and the appliances for the food pantry is provided by
volunteers, so we can keep that promise that 100 percent goes to the
strong reputation is also was built by Walt Fulcher, according to
Carroll, who founded the United Methodist Men 38 years ago and who was
the director for 37 years of its operation. Under Mr. Fulcher's
leadership and tireless efforts, the organization grew from just a few
members to one of the county’s largest organizations.
food pantry has been used over 10,000 times, and the emergency
assistance fund has provided over $1.5 million to help needy families,
especially after hurricanes.
in terms of what the United Methodist Men can do for Hurricane Matthew
victims and anyone in need, the answer is more or less determined on a
Dec. 1, roughly six weeks after Matthew hit, the organization had
written checks for several homeless people to stay in a motel until
they were able to receive a FEMA grant and for a woman in Hatteras to
complete the work required to put her house back in livable condition.
volunteers and the community did the bulk of the work [on the woman’s
house], but they came up a little short,” says Carroll. “So we bought
the materials for the last bit of replacement and insulation. We have
also bought a number of appliances for people who were uninsured and
had no FEMA money. Those are the typical scenarios [we help with].”
what the organization does is fill in the gaps for storm victims and
anyone in need, to ensure that no stone is left unturned when it comes
to emergency assistance.
while people who need help are welcome to come to the United Methodist
Men directly – or to their on-site food pantry at the United Methodist
Church in Buxton, the best first course of action for help is the
Social Services office in Frisco.
Social Services staff members work with the Cape Hatteras United
Methodist Men – as well as other local organizations – to put people in
touch with the assistance that is most appropriate for their situation.
that being said, there can be an unwarranted stigma attached to going
to social services for help, which can cause people in need to stay
silent -- even months after a storm has caused devastation.
a handicap that we have to deal with,” says Carroll. “Many people end
up not applying for things that they’re eligible for for the reason
[that they’re embarrassed.]… We are trying to find those people and
send volunteers to talk with them -- someone besides Social Services.
We generally assure them that the staff at Social Services are good
people. They treat people with dignity, they’re easy to talk to, and
there’s absolutely nothing wrong with needing assistance.”
Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men are continuing to work through the
100-plus person list they currently have, with Carroll noting that many
of the requests are fairly easy ones, while others will be more
difficult because of major rebuilding needs.
good news is that because of the generosity of the community and
out-of-area visitors and homeowners, the United Methodist Men are well
equipped to handle the immediate issues at hand.
have been overwhelmed with the generosity we’ve received,” says
Carroll. “So many of our donors are out of state, but they have
connections with Hatteras Island, and they want to give to someone they
know will use the money wisely, so we’ve been blessed.
are well equipped to help. And we are partners with Interfaith Outreach
for Hatteras Island, which makes our funds even better.
this point] we’re only limited by the pace of other agencies, and
insurance settlements, and so forth,” adds Carroll. “Although we do
expect to be limited by a shortage of labor when the reconstruction
[heats up]… "
of this point, the Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men is most in need
of monetary donations, and especially volunteers who can help with the
upcoming rebuilding efforts. Anyone who has taken a drive along
Highway 12 will likely notice a massive amount of remodeling projects
still in process, and as this wave of rebuilding continues to grow,
more volunteers will be required to ensure the outstanding jobs are
done with the initial phase – clean up and salvage. So we’re now
looking at getting the rest of the recovery underway,” says Carroll.
past years, this wasn’t a problem – as area volunteers from all over
the state and country pitched in and helped rebuild. But considering
that Matthew caused such massive damage throughout North Carolina and
beyond, workers who can pitch in are in shorter supply.
are clearly obstacles in the not-so-distant future for the Cape
Hatteras United Methodist Men, as well as the community in general. But
as time has shown again and again, there’s still plenty of hope that
any gaps in the massive effort to restore the community will be filled,
and no one will be left behind.
“The island has dealt with this before, and we always get through it,” says Carroll. The people here are hardy, and resourceful.
gives me satisfaction to see hardworking folks who need a helping hand,
and to help them get over the hump, and help them on the way,” he adds.
“Our work is not to help people for the long term, but give them a lift
--when they need it.
just try to do our part. The United Methodist Men has such a long
history and a long reputation that I just hope I can carry it on well
“We try, but we can always do more.”
IF YOU NEED HELP
in need with emergency issues – such as electricity that is about to be
turned off, or current uninhabitable conditions – should note that the
first step to take is to contact the Dare County Social Services
services is the clearinghouse,” says Carroll. “We’re only one charity –
we’re the main one on the island, but there are also other services
available, so the Social Services office in Frisco would be the best
If you have a need, please reach out to DSS at 473-0550.
IF YOU WANT TO HELP
local Really Free Markets, Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men, and
other area charities have received plenty of clothing and other
material donations. However, monetary donations and volunteer
assistance is always appreciated.
Monetary Donations can be made to Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men at P.O. Box 1591, Buxton, NC 27920.
Potential volunteers can contact the Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men at [email protected]
addition, gifts of new, unwrapped toys can be donated to the Hatteras
Island Angel Gift program. Please call the Hatteras Methodist Church at
986-2149 for more information about donating or receiving these items.