As Hurricane Dorian moved slowly toward the Wilmington area, organizations involved in response efforts leapt into action.
One might expect a downtrodden group of disaster management professionals, still dealing with post-traumatic stress and overwhelmed by trying to handle preparedness and immediate response with long-term recovery still on our plates.
The conference calls, meetings, and quick action taken during those days showed me exactly the opposite. State and local emergency management officials, faith leaders, nonprofit executives, government employees, business leaders, and individual volunteers confidently stepped up to the plate for a third time in three years. (Hurricane Matthew was October 8, 2016)
It was truly amazing!
One reason for our confidence is knowing we can rely on each other.
After Hurricane Florence, our community came together in ways we’ve never seen before. For example, Long-Term Recovery Groups (LTRG’s) in each county have worked together to manage volunteers, identify and address unmet needs, coordinate resources, and provide input on improvements as we prepared for the 2019 hurricane season. These relationships are the foundation of our Florence recovery and served us well as we prepared for Dorian.
Thankfully, Dorian did minimal damage in our region. But this probably won’t be the last time we find ourselves in the Cone of Uncertainty. If the local forecast includes tropical storm force winds, here’s what you can expect.
You can expect us to prepare wisely.
While we only have a few days, at least with a slow-moving hurricane we do have a few days to prepare. I can’t think of any other disaster that gives a community that kind of warning!
WARM is always preparing for severe weather. Our rebuilding work makes homes stronger and sounder, better able to withstand strong winds. In our 23-year history, we’ve strengthened over 1,300 homes in Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender Counties. We’ve rebuilt over 70 homes damaged by Hurricane Florence.
With Dorian bearing down on us, WARM contacted everyone on our waitlist in need of roof repair or replacement and installed new tarps to offer more protection from the driving rain. We stockpiled plywood, more tarps, generators, and emergency repair supplies needed immediately after a storm.
You can expect shorter set up time.
In the weeks and months after Hurricane Florence, many out-of-town faith-based and other relief organizations set up offices and other accommodations to help with response and recovery efforts. Many are still here. The Catholics are case working champions in our region. The Baptists and the United Methodists have established home rehab programs and have settled in for long term recovery; in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, they will respond quickly and coordinate with local groups. American Red Cross will always be here for us and planned to shelter 10,000 people if Dorian hit us hard.
The local and out-of-town immediate response groups already know where to serve food and distribute supplies. Team Rubicon’s 102,000 members were on stand-by for deployment to the Carolinas. World Central Kitchen came to Wilmington for several days. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance collected buckets of flood supplies and staged medical and shower trailers across the region.
Before the storm hit, the Governor’s office was busy setting up a Dorian Disaster Fund and was ready for applications within days of landfall.
You can expect a unified and strategic response.
If a storm impacts our region, our partners will continue to work together and capitalize on each other’s strengths.
Our LTRG Construction Committees, consisting of organizations that rebuild owner-occupied homes, are a great example. Many of our partners have the training and resources to muck-out flooded homes while WARM’s crew of six construction professionals will focus on emergency repairs.
We will quickly shift from long-term recovery to immediate response… and eventually back to recovery again.
Know this: thousands of helpers are ready and waiting to come to the rescue and are committed to full recovery. We are not afraid to say the H word anymore.
JC Lyle has served as WARM’s Executive Director since January 2009. Under her leadership, WARM's annual revenue and productivity have more than quadrupled. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, Lyle worked at McKim & Creed on subdivision design, rezoning and permitting throughout coastal North Carolina. Lyle earned her Master of Business Administration from UNCW's Cameron School of Business and has presented workshops on affordable housing issues and nonprofit management at state-level conferences. Lyle serves on the Planning Commission for the City of Wilmington and the North Carolina Housing Partnership, the board that oversees the state's housing trust fund. In 2012, Lyle was named Wilma Magazine's first Woman to Watch in the Nonprofit Category. In 2014, she accepted WARM's Coastal Entrepreneur Award in the Nonprofit Category, given by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In 2018, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Cape Fear Chapter named her Outstanding Fundraiser of the Year.
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