Volunteer group’s effort highlights the thousands still in need after Hurricane Florence

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LUMBERTON, N.C. — A line of cars stretched as far as the eye could see down N. Roberts Avenue as about 125 volunteers at the Hyde Park Baptist Church prepared to hand out 20,000 hot meals and bottles of water. Volunteers are here twice a day, working from an outdoor kitchen and helping tens of thousands who are in need after the destruction of Hurricane Florence.

Gregg Riggs, the disaster relief team leader of North Carolina Baptist Men, said he expected around 8,500 cars to roll through this church parking lot over the course of two and half hours beginning at 6 p.m. ET. People were handed hot meals in Styrofoam containers, sometimes four at a time. In one case, that meant chicken patties on rolls, with sides of carrots and apple sauce.

The group would be back at 11 a.m. the next morning to start handing out lunch, and would continue to feed people for however long they deemed it necessary.

“These cook teams come in for four day cycles,” Riggs said. “That’s about all they can stand. When you look at these folks, these volunteers, they’re 60, 70, 80-year-olds. It’s hot and the temperature works on them. One hundred percent of the people are volunteers. We sleep on the floor in the church classrooms and we eat the food here, too.”

President Donald Trump visited a similar kitchen that was also run by North Carolina Baptist Men and Baptists on Mission earlier this week when he came to see the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence. The organizations have nine mobile sites throughout the state.

The organization’s volunteers were still here working on post-Hurricane Matthew recovery projects caused by 2016’s heavy flooding when Hurricane Florence hit the coast late last week. They hoped to restore 200 houses for residents here, but they hadn’t quite made it to that number when Hurricane Florence rolled through and devastated the same area.

And it’s mostly predominantly black neighborhoods here that have been affected by the flooding — a disaster that is nearly a mirror image of the damage caused by Matthew.

Phil McCausland
2018-09-22 21:18:00

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