It was less than two weeks ago that Hurricane Florence loomed over the East Coast with weather models predicting disaster for cities across three states. When Florence made landfall, it laid waste to southeastern North Carolina, especially areas around Wilmington, New Bern, and the Down East region. Though the storm may have not had a major effect on the island, Hatteras locals knew they had to help since they have been in the same position before.
For the past week or so, Hatteras Island locals and businesses have been collecting food and supplies from all across the island and sending it down the coast in hopes of lending a helping hand to communities very geographically similar to ours. Though not everyone could leave the island for an extended period of time, even students at Cape Hatteras Secondary School (CHSS) wanted to do their part, because they know what it’s like to have their home wrecked by a major weather event. Led by teacher Evan Ferguson, students in CHSS’s foods class spent three days preparing and packaging food to send down to students at East Carteret High School in Beaufort, NC.
Beaufort is a small community located on the Inner Banks of North Carolina. When Florence shifted south, Beaufort ended up in the worst part of the storm, the northeast quadrant. They lost power, and were subjected to nearly 90 mph winds and seven-foot storm surge – the highest water levels recorded in the history of the town.
Although there are cities in need up and down the southern coast of North Carolina, CHSS has a special relationship with East Carteret High School (ECHS.) Three years ago, the two schools joined hands on a food and fishing-based grant benefitting both schools, and they have enjoyed collaborating with one another ever since.
Life-altering hurricane damage is certainly nothing new to CHSS students who witnessed the storm surge from Hurricane Matthew. After Matthew hit just two years ago, Ferguson’s class got to work making a warm dish topped with a homemade roasted tomato sauce for Hatteras locals. They were happy to get the opportunity to serve their community and help lift sunken spirits. So when they heard about the tragedy in Beaufort, students in Ferguson’s class knew just what to do to show their support.
“My students love to help, so when I mentioned this project to them they were very excited. Many of them have been in similar situations with hurricane damage, so they can relate,” said Ferguson.
In just three days, all four of Ferguson’s classes came together to prepare and package 18 loaves of individually sliced banana bread and banana pumpkin bread for Florence victims at ECHS. Though students were at different levels, and some had not even learned to measure yet, all were eager to get involved. With a generous donation of bananas from both Lee Robinson General Store and Conner’s Supermarket, the class decided they wanted to utilize what they were given while also making a nutritious snack that would freeze well.
“Banana bread is just something simple, but [it] is filled with nutrients to keep them going. I know that coming together will be able to get the affected people back on their feet in no time,” said student Ruby Shoemaker.
With their hard work, Ferguson’s passion for hurricane relief, and the help of local community member, Lynne Foster, over 150 slices of frozen sweet treats will be sent down to ECHS as soon as students are back to school. Students knew that food was not the only way to encourage our southern neighbors, however. The treats will be accompanied with handwritten notes of encouragement like, “our thoughts are with you,” “be strong,” and “have a great day” in order to do provide a boost.
The efforts of Ferguson and her students just goes to show that everyone can do their part, no matter their age. And in the process, Ferguson’s class is learning not only the ways of cooking, but also of helping their neighbors.
“I am glad to be able to make an impact and help out the ones who need it,” student Lexus Meekins said.