On Thursday night, volunteers with the Hatteras Island Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men, local fire stations, and other partner organizations came together at the Avon Fire Station to give thanks for the wave of support and hard work in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
Hatteras Island CERT President Larry Ogden estimates that the CERT Team and additional volunteers put in more than 4,000 volunteer hours helping island residents, while Dennis Carroll of the Methodist Men (CHUMM) reports that the organization had responded to 464 requests for help following the storm.
“Of those 464 [requests], a little more than 150 had significant water in their homes from flood waters or wind damage,” said Carroll. “We, in combination with the [North Carolina] Baptist Men and other local organizations and volunteers, took care of every one of the urgent needs pretty quickly, and within three to four weeks… That included emergency roof repair, tearing out flood-damaged homes, trying to help with displaced people, providing supplies, and so forth.”
The Thursday evening social was an opportunity to express gratitude to the many players involved in the storm response that was activated within hours of Dorian’s landfall on September 6, and which lasted for weeks after Dorian’s departure.
Ogden began by thanking the many volunteers and partner organizations involved in the storm response on Hatteras Island, and as he named the many contributors, it became clear that the list of supporters was extensive.
“[We] have a long list of folks and organizations who donated equipment, financial support, food and more. I want to mention just a few to be recognized this evening,” said Ogden.
Organizations who partnered with CERT after the storm included the Methodist Men, Hatteras Island’s volunteer fire departments, the North Carolina Baptist Men, Dare County Emergency Management and Social Services, Radio Hatteras, the local Catholic Church team lead by Megan Vayette, Lowes and Home Depot in the northern Outer Banks, Moneysworth Beach Rentals, the Manteo Lion’s Club, the Outer Banks Community Foundation, and many, many more.
All of the above organizations sent supplies, donations, and / or volunteer teams who got their hands dirty cleaning out flooded homes in a massive effort that extended throughout southern Hatteras Island.
Several examples were shared of how volunteers went above and beyond to pitch in with the recovery efforts. Lowes in Kill Devil Hills had sent 200 buckets of supplies in 2018 following Hurricane Florence, which were utilized in the days after Dorian. “We used those buckets this year, and most went out the very first week in September after Dorian hit,” said Ogden. “Lowes gave us 400 more flood buckets in mid-September, and they also donated much more: fans, pallets of Gatorade, pallets of trash bags, dehumidifiers, shovels, rakes, pitchforks, gloves, mosquito spray, bleach and just about anything we asked for…”
“They also sent 12 employees down to Frisco to help clean up homes that were flooded, working with CHUMM ERT for two full days, and delivered more supplies that we needed,” he added. “I don’t have a dollar figure, but I am sure it was thousands of dollars of equipment and time to aid our recovery.”
The Manteo Lions Club was also mentioned for donating a few trailer loads of food and supplies in addition to a new galvanized utility trailer for CERT to use in emergency responses on Hatteras Island, and Moneysworth Beach Rentals also provided a hefty donation in the form of 750 black storage totes. “They were really needed and appreciated… except for all of us that had to unload them!” said Ogden.
The Outer Banks Community Foundation (OBCF) was also singled out for their longstanding contributions to storm recovery. “The Community Foundation is a Godsend for those of us on Hatteras Island and throughout Dare County,” said Ogden. “To be honest with you, I don’t think CERT would exist today if it wasn’t for the OBCF.”
From local fire chiefs to individuals, Ogden’s assessment that there were almost too many people to thank was demonstrably accurate.
“I know we had many groups and volunteers in addition to those mentioned, like the group from the Coast Guard, and many more – almost too many to mention,” he said. “To all who volunteered, a sincere Thank you!”
Ogden also touched on the many visitors who took time away from their vacation to drop off supplies or volunteer to help with the storm recovery efforts. He reported that donations poured in from 17 states across the country, from North Carolina to Texas.
“We tried to document who donated supplies as well as financial donations, but many folks just dropped things off as they came to the island for vacation,” said Ogden. “Last week, I wrote 160 personalized ‘Thank You’ letters to those who gave us their contact information. Many of them donated the supplies that we needed, [but] they also donated their vacation days to help the CHUMM team clean up flooded homes… unreal.”
Ogden also touched on the Frisco Free Market, which organized and provided supplies to residents in need. Although it was impossible to determine how many residents stopped by the market to pick up essentials that ranged from cleaning products to pet food, Ogden estimated that the market served an average of 50 to 60 people a day over a seven-week period.
“Jenn Auguston put the plan together and was helped by Mandy Haage Fuller, Debbie Scalia, and Kenny Brite and myself – really we were just bystanders, they did the work…” he said. “Some folks almost lived there: Sandi Garrison, Marcia Laricos, Kevin Toohey, Ed Carey, Vance Haney, Joann Mattis, Wayne Mathis, just to name a few… Again a very sincere Thank You!”
When it came to who provided labor, supplies, and overall support, it was also clear that as efforts progressed, the lines became blurred. Island organizations and volunteers continually worked together throughout the response, which bolstered the overall efforts.
“We are partners. We complement each other,” said Carroll at Thursday night’s social. “We are two months ahead of where we were with Matthew at this time, and I think it’s because of this cooperation. We work really well together.”
“Hatteras Island is a shining light for all other communities when it comes to how you come together and respond [after a storm],” said James Wooten of Dare County Emergency Management at Thursday’s event. “On behalf of Dare County and Emergency Management, we appreciate all you do.”
The roughly 50 individuals at Thursday evening’s social were treated to an extensive buffet dinner organized by CERT members Misty Gillikin and Amberly Dyer, and the mood was certainly lighter and more relaxed than the preceding weeks when the all-hands-on-deck effort to provide post-storm assistance was in full swing.
Even so, those involved with the storm response noted that there was still more work to do, and that the coordinated response would likely be needed again in the future.
Kenny Brite led the room in a standing ovation for CERT President Larry Ogden, and touched on the shared sentiment that the CERT Team would, at some point, be needed again.
“Unfortunately, we are getting better at this, so everyone rest up, because there will be another storm,” said Brite. “…We don’t know when – could be next year, or years after this one, but it’s coming.”
Donation Information to Help with Continued Recovery Efforts:
Checks/gift cards can be mailed to the following addresses (all are 501c3 so donations are tax deductible):
Cape Hatteras Methodist Men
PO Box 1591
Buxton, NC 27920
PO Box 35
Avon, NC 27915
The public can also onate online via PayPal at www.interfaithoutreach.com. Enter the donation comment “Hatteras Storm Relief.”