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Storm Relief Efforts Ongoing Throughout The Region

By Cece Nunn, posted Sep 20, 2018
Volunteers assemble food packets Thursday at Port City Community Church in Wilmington. (Photo by Cece Nunn)

Nonprofit organizations, local companies and individuals were helping with relief efforts in the Cape Fear region Thursday to distribute food, water and services throughout the Wilmington area, with a major operation set up at the 32-acre Wilmington campus of a local church.

Convoy of Hope, a Springfield, Missouri-based international humanitarian-relief organization, has been in Wilmington since Sept. 15, the night after Hurricane Florence made landfall.

Among their contributions, the faith-based group has been helping to coordinate volunteers and supply distribution efforts at Port City Community Church, said Mike Ashcraft, the church's senior pastor.

“They've already put a million pounds of food in our state since the hurricane,” Ashcraft said Thursday morning. “It's absolutely unbelievable."

Crews were working Thursday to set up a warehouse in the Brunswick County city of Southport, among a multitude of other tasks they were undertaking to provide help in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid organization headed by Franklin Graham and based in Boone, is also stationed at the Wilmington campus of Port City Community Church, 250 Vision Drive.

New Hanover County officials announced this week that Port City Community Church is the site where its incident management team is stationed.

Additionally, individuals and organizations that wish to volunteer for, or donate to, hurricane relief efforts in the county should email [email protected]. Residents who are seeking assistance can also use this contact information to receive help, a county news release stated.

"Donations from the community are being accepted at several locations around New Hanover County. In addition, residents can come to these locations for supplies and food. A list of locations and accepted donations is available at EmergencyNHC.com," the release stated.

The release also said that the county is also partnering with National Voluntary Organizations in Disasters, and interested donors and volunteers can learn more about relief efforts at NVOAD.org.

“We are grateful to our community members, and others outside of New Hanover County, who are rising up in this time of need to bring resources and comfort to each other,” said New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet in the release. “In fact, the outpouring from our residents has been so great that part of our relief response now includes this coordination team. They will be our liaison to community groups, the faith community, and individuals who are courageously stepping up in this time of need.”

There were numerous examples of groups, companies and individuals that were taking action, and in many cases had already taken action, for the Wilmington area as a result of the storm.

Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who grew up in Wilmington, has stated he will be donating $2 million to relief and recovery efforts, according to news reports this week.

While many residents were evacuating to higher ground in the days before the hurricane, Samira Davis, a real estate agent who had just started working with Wilmington-based residential real estate firm Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage on Sept. 10, was scrambling to help organize Sea Coast Pet Sanctuary, currently located at 1920 S. 16th St.

"There's a lot of businesses that are coming together," Davis said of how the sanctuary came about. "This has only been possible because of the tremendous generosity of various business owners throughout the Wilmington area."

Tidal Creek Co-Op sold the sanctuary all the dog food it had at cost, for example, Davis said.

The shelter was set up for dogs and cats abandoned as a result of the hurricane, in partnership with the Pender County Humane Society, which is headed by Julie Lamacchia, and funded by Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage.

The firm donated $1,000 in matching funds to Pender County Humane Society and has committed an additional $1,500 donation for supplies for the sanctuary (a volunteer with a sanctuary puppy is pictured above).

Wade and Ashley Wilson, also agents with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, donated the use of a family-owned, 33,000-square-foot warehouse building in Castle Hayne that is expected to be used for horse rescue by a FEMA-approved group, Davis said. 

In another example of relief efforts, an announcement from real estate firm Keller Williams stated that four Keller Williams Realty Cares tractor-trailer trucks were expected to arrive Thursday and a disaster relief team was set to stay in Wilmington as long as required.

"Crews will be assisting Keller Williams agents and their immediate families with post-storm clean-up, supplies, generators, fuel, temporary lodging, and emergency stipends to cover meals and daily cost of living during storm recovery," a news release stated.

In the 48 hours before Hurricane Florence made landfall Sept. 14, more than $70,000 had been advanced to local Keller Williams agents to offset the cost of evacuation: money to cover food, lodging and travel "to keep people out of harm’s way," the release said.

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