Over the weekend, Red Cross volunteers canvassed tornado damaged neighborhoods in Beaufort, Chowan, Perquimans and Pasquotank counties distributing nearly 2,000 clean up and relief items. For more than a week the Red Cross has been helping tornado victims by providing shelter, clothes, food, and supplies while meeting individually with families to discuss recovery plans.
To date the Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross has:
- Served 4,819 meals and snacks.
- Distributed 2,229 supplies including blankets, comfort kits with hygiene items, clean up kits and items including gloves, hand sanitizer, storage containers, sunscreen, bug spray, heavy duty trash bags, tarps, rope, duct tape, first aid kits, rakes.
- Opened 86 cases providing individualized support to 217 residents including direct financial assistance.
- Mobilized 147 disaster workers.
Here are a few stories of how the Red Cross is helping:
SOMEONE TO TALK TO For Duncan Blevins, the American Red Cross and other charitable organizations have been a Godsend. The tornado ravaged his neighborhood in Beaufort County, leaving destruction in its wake.
“I saw the tornado form and drop from the sky – it’s a horrible memory that I hope will someday go away,” said Blevins.
Blevins has found some comfort by speaking with Red Cross counselors. “I have been having trouble sleeping ever since the storm, but by having someone I can talk to, it has really helped a great deal. From neighbors, to church groups, to the Red Cross, the outpouring of support has been unbelievable.”
“I think today is the first time that I can laugh about some of this,” Blevins said. “At least I won’t need to buy firewood anytime soon!”
COMING THROUGH THE WINDOW Judy Durbin was sitting on her couch in Chocowinity, watching television with her dog, Sammy. In a matter of seconds and without warning, her life was turned upside down by a tornado.
“My power went out and the next thing I knew the windows blew in. It happened just that fast! I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening, and then it was gone,” she said.
The house had collapsed all around her, except the roof over her head and two windows behind her.
Durbin was sitting on her couch with Sammy held tightly in her arms, trying to figure out what had just happened, when her neighbor, Duncan, stepped in through what had until moments ago been a window. “Why are you coming through my window,” she recounted thinking.
This is the third time she has been assisted by the American Red Cross. During Hurricanes Floyd & Fran, she experienced severe flooding and the Red Cross was there to provide “just about everything we needed.” “I think a lot of the Red Cross,” Durbin said.
FROM BOARD MEMBER TO CLIENT As a Red Cross board member, Amy Ward is all too familiar with the Red Cross and the services the organization provides to people during disasters but never realized one day that she and her family would need those services. That was the day a tornado struck her subdivision in Washington, hitting both her father’s and her mother’s homes, while barely missing her house.
“You definitely don’t expect anything like this to happen. It really does change your perspective,” said Ward. “It is one thing to fundraise for disasters but when you are getting the assistance, it really brings it home.”
With less than five minutes warning, she and ten family members and friends huddled together in the downstairs bathroom while the tornado ravaged through their neighborhood.
Ward’s message to others: “It is important to know that you have resources. People don’t know enough about the services and organizations that are there in a crisis. You don’t have to do it by yourself; the American Red Cross will always be there to help.”
REBUILDING THE FAMILY HOME Caleb and Shirley Harris have lived in their house in Chowan County since they built it in 1957. They raised their children there and now their grandson lives there with them. However, the recent tornado took its toll on the house. The Harris’s and their grandson were all home when the tornado touched down on their property.
“It just came right in under the roof and tore up the back bedroom and then left to do damage to our buildings out back,” said Caleb.
The Red Cross stopped by the Harris’ to offer their support and provide the family with cleanup supplies as they worked to repair and rebuild their home. The family expressed their gratitude for the help from the Red Cross and community organizations.
HOW TO HELP People can help those affected by disasters like the NC tornadoes and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs like providing disaster relief. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.