It's been almost a full year since Hurricane Florence brought sustained wind, rain, flooding and abject misery to Eastern North Carolina, but there is still much to be done. Out of the media spotlight, many hurricane victims still face great need.
The region was flooded with nonprofit organizations and church groups after the storm, doing short-term disaster recovery.One group that is still on the job with a mission to continue for as long as it takes in the effort to help victims of Hurricane Florence is the Cape Fear Volunteer Center. The CFVC is not a new organization. For the past 15 years it has assisted nonprofits by mobilizing volunteers to support their operations. It also directs donations of goods to victims for free distribution and connects victims to available resources.
One of its best-known initiatives is the Big Buddy program, which provides one-on-one mentoring for at-risk youth ages 5-17 in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender Counties by matching them with positive adult role models.
But mostly this nonprofit organizes volunteers to assist others.
"It takes time and money to recruit and support people who want to volunteer. And unlike other charities in our area, we are a clearing house for volunteers to serve the community. We keep very few for ourselves; we are like a big middleman," says Annie Anthony, Cape Fear Volunteer Center's CEO and executive director.
For May, June and July 2019 CFVC mobilized 100 volunteers for 35 hours a week to work on different types of long-term recovery projects.
"We are part of the disaster coalition, and everything we are doing right now is to alleviate the challenges and suffering that New Hanover County has experienced from Hurricane Florence," Anthony says.
The New Hanover County Disaster Coalition is an alliance of community leaders, faith groups, nonprofits and members of the public working toward the relief and recovery of all county residents affected by disaster.
CFVC volunteers are still restoring homes damaged by Florence, including complete demolition and assorted rebuild projects to include painting, cleaning, hanging drywall, etc.They assist hurricane survivors with furniture needs and help them move back home from temporary residences. They are completing property cleanups, including yard work and cutting down trees and limbs.
"We assist victims of Hurricane Florence with any unmet need they may have; since February, we have moved over 53 residents either into temporary housing or into their new long-term residences.," say Lee Pridgen, project manager for CFVC. "We have handled over 35 projects including demo, rebuild, painting, yard work, roof tarps, etc."
They still have a backlog of more than 200 projects for hurricane victims.
"Some are furniture deliveries that can be completed in an afternoon, and others are more in depth and will require weeks of commitment from volunteers and ourselves," Pridgen says.
He says CFVC still needs volunteers, whether it is for an hour once a week, or multiple dates over a longer period of time.