Hurricane Florence brought considerable devastation to eastern North Carolina in September 2018 leaving a path of destruction where many are still trying to recover to this day. In response to assist older adults with their recovery efforts, ECC-AAA applied for several recovery grants offered by those who also care and serve older adults. Immediately after the storm, United Way of Coastal Carolina provided ECC-AAA with 50 fans and $5,000 in $50 increment gift cards to distribute to those affected by the storm in the Carteret, Craven, Jones, and Pamlico areas. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) along with Tivity Health granted ECC-AAA $3,600 to distribute $100 increment gift cards to assist older adults with recovery efforts. The South Eastern Association of Area Agencies on Aging (SE4A) was provided funding by AARP to assist with recovery efforts in North and South Carolina. ECC-AAA received two grants from SE4A; one for $6,500 where 2,168 shelf stable meals were equitably distributed to our nutrition providers in our nine counties and the second was for $10,000 to assist older adults with recovery efforts in purchasing needed materials for repairs and replacing household items lost or damaged by the storm. ECC-AAA has received referrals from partnering agencies assisting in recovery efforts as well as referrals from our community service providers who have identified the older adults as needing help with recovery. Assisting these older adults in getting back at least some of what they have lost has been one of the ways ECC has made an impact with recovery efforts in our region. Below are a few of the stories of those we have helped and how these recovery funds have made an impact on their lives.
In Craven County, ECC-AAA received a referral from the Back at Home program through Endeavors, an organization that specializes in assisting vulnerable people in crisis, connected us with an older adult that lost everything during the hurricane. Katherine H of Bridgeton, NC lost her rented mobile home and all its contents due to the storm. Nothing in her home was salvageable and the only thing that she had were the clothes on her back. She lost her car at the beginning of the approaching storm when she evacuated her mobile home in Bridgeton seeking a shelter and needing gasoline. There was no gasoline to be found so she parked her car where it finally ran out of gas near downtown New Bern and contacted a church friend who graciously picked her up in the midst of the storm and took her to a shelter. Her car succumbed to the storm and it too was lost. Katherine found herself unemployed, as her place of employment received storm damage, and she found herself homeless after the shelters closed. Katherine found temporary places to stay, including staying in laundromats, until she finally received assistance from Endeavors. Endeavors connected Katherine with an apartment in New Bern and was able to provide her with some home furnishings. Endeavors learned about the assistance ECC-AAA was offering through Craven County Disaster Recovery Alliance (CCDRA) and contacted us seeking assistance in piecing Katherines life back together. ECC-AAA met with Katherine and Michelle, case manager from Endeavors, to discuss her needs. Katherine was in desperate need of clothes, transportation, a cell phone, clothes washer, employment, and various household items for cooking and daily living. ECC-AAA was able to immediately connect Katherine with food from Religious Community Services (RCS) and also introduced her to the senior center in New Bern sharing with her all the services/programs available to her as an older adult. With a budget of $500 ECC-AAA was able to provide Katherine with a portable clothes washer, clothes, shoes, kitchen and household items, a cell phone to assist her with seeking employment, and a bike so she has a means of transportation. Katherine was very excited and gracious to receive the help from ECC and is very well on her way to recovery. She has been able to gain employment and rides her bike to and from work.
In Wayne County, Diane S. was impacted by Hurricane Florence when the winds ripped most of her homes roof off causing major water damage to the home she has lived in for over 30 years. Due to the damage, Diane was not able to rescue most of the contents and was forced to seek housing elsewhere until repairs can be completed. She too has had to start all over in re-acquiring all those items lost during the storm including clothes, shoes, and household items. Most of the furnishings in her home perished as they began to develop mold and mildew and was forced to purge them. Diane, like many people in recovery from the storm with few resources, sought help from local agencies finally connecting with Endeavors who assisted her with case management and was able to provide housing assistance along with some home contents. Endeavors contacted ECC-AAA as they were aware of our resource in assisting older adults. After a meeting with Diane to determine her needs and a budget of $400, Diane felt her biggest need was a bed. ECC-AAA was able to purchase a mattress and box spring from a furniture store in Goldsboro. ECC-AAA picked up the mattress and box spring and delivered it to Diane’s apartment where she is staying until her home is repaired. With very little furniture in her new temporary apartment, Diane was very excited to have a new bed and expressed how this meant the world to her. Diane is getting closer to recovering from the storm as the home repairs and methods to pay for the repairs are finally coming together and soon, she will be back in her home.
We continue to assist older adults to recover from Hurricane Florence and continue to field referrals connecting the older adults to resources and acquiring items that are needed to help make their lives a little better. ECC-AAA has assisted over 100 older adults affected by Hurricane Florence with gift cards, household items, and appliances and look forward to assisting as many as we can until the grant funding is exhausted.