North Carolina Overview Report
A team of six Hope Force International (HFI) staff and Reservists formed the initial response team to Hurricane Matthew, arriving in North Carolina on October 10th, with additional HFI Reservists and volunteers joining soon afterwards.
Through a relational network, a connection was made with city officials in hard-hit Lumberton, NC. While the city leadership was deeply grateful to have HFI’s involvement, it was necessary to wait for the water to recede before work could begin. As a result, the initial base of operations was near Fayetteville, where HFI helped to “muck out” eight different homes during the five-day wait for the water level to go down in Lumberton.
Flood remediation was provided for several homes – many owned by widows; these connections were made through local churches. Fort Bragg is near Fayetteville, so we also had the privilege of helping the families of some of the military personnel stationed there.
The Lumberton city officials we encountered were impressive – dedicated, hardworking and caring people. They were excited to have HFI engaged as much for the emotional & spiritual care that was offered (through HFI chaplains) as for the recovery work that was provided.
The people of Lumberton left a lasting impression on the HFI team. Woody is a good example. When the levee was breached and water flooded into his neighborhood, Woody spent the night making trips into his neighborhood in a boat rescuing those who couldn’t get out. His own home was badly damaged and will require a lot of work to
repair. Decades of remodels left multiple layers of drywall and paneling, and layers of flooring upon flooring – and the floodwaters settled between each of those layers. It all needed to be removed so his home could dry out properly.
Through relational networking, HFI was introduced to North Carolina Congressman, Mike McIntyre, who in turn introduced our team to Lumberton, NC Community Leader, Linda Oxendine. Ms. Oxendine is Director of Public Services and City Liaison, responsible for relief and recovery for the city. This paved the way for HFI’s involvement in immediate relief efforts once the water had receded enough to start the “muck out” process.
While waiting for the water to recede in Lumberton, HFI teams set up camp in Fayetteville, NC -- providing flood remediation for eight different homes of widows and war veterans.
HFI Reservists and volunteers converged from across the country to assist with the relief efforts. States represented were, Tennessee, Wisconsin, California, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina. In all, 55 volunteered their labor of love to those who are faced with the overwhelming task of picking up the pieces in the aftermath of this devastating flood; totaling 2189 man hours contributed.
More than just the physical needs of the survivors were met. HFI’s core value of the “ministry of presence” was active as three HFI-trained chaplains worked alongside the flood remediation teams.
Over the course of three weeks, HFI teams were able to serve 30 different homeowners; the targeted recipient being the elderly, widowed or single mothers. The relationship formed with Ms. Oxendine was invaluable as HFI assisted her in meeting the needs of the community she loves. She, in turn, was able to provide our teams with insight into the areas of greatest need, and how HFI could be most effective in walking alongside individuals who were in need of help. Ms. Oxendine introduced HFI to Godwin Heights Baptist Church, who graciously provided a place for our teams to stay during our time in Lumberton.
We are honored to have had the privilege of serving the wonderful people of Lumberton, North Carolina, in their time of great need!
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