Relief agencies seek help for victims

By William F. West

The Daily Advance

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Local disaster relief agencies are seeking the public’s help in their ongoing efforts to help those whose homes were either destroyed or severely damaged in Friday’s tornadoes.

Carolyn Self, executive director of the Greater Albemarle Chapter of the American Red Cross, said her agency provided lodging over the weekend to at least eight people displaced by the storms.

“We need financial donations because we have a lot of expenses,” Self said.

Major Butch Mallard of the Salvation Army of Elizabeth City, meanwhile, said his organization needs more canned foods, non-perishable foods and paper products.

Pasquotank officials said 13 homes were destroyed and another 17 sustained major damage during the storm that also included three tornadoes touching down. In addition, downed power lines and fallen trees knocked out power to thousands of other county residents.

Although all 3,300 remaining Dominion Power customers without power had their electricity restored as of Monday, an estimated 500 customers of Elizabeth City’s utility department were still without power.

Self said that, in addition to providing food and water to residents in the areas of Pasquotank, Chowan and Perquimans hit hardest by Friday storms, the Red Cross had at least four client case workers in the field Monday meeting with the neediest of families and to assess their situations.

She said Red Cross disaster response workers from New Bern and Virginia have been providing assistance to the local Red Cross chapter.

Mallard said the Salvation Army has been focusing on helping residents at the Meadowlands Mobile Home Park whose homes were destroyed or damaged and at the Debry public housing complex, which was still without power until Monday.

“We’ve been feeding about 300 people a day at each place,” Mallard said.

The Salvation Army prepares the meals at its headquarters on Fourth Street and delivers them to the two sites.

Michele Perkins, who works as a youth evangelism and outreach director for the Salvation Army, was helping deliver spaghetti meals to Debry residents Monday evening. Perkins said a church group had also pitched in and help cook meals Monday for the public housing residents.

A longtime Debry resident, speaking on the condition her name not be published, said after losing power in the storm, she tried to cook what foods she could on an outdoor grill. The rest of her food went bad, she said.

The woman said power did not come back on at her home until early Monday evening, so she was glad the Salvation Army delivered food to residents.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” she said.

Meanwhile, residents of the Meadowlands Mobile Home Park were trying Monday to regain some sense of normalcy. One of the three tornadoes to touch down in Pasquotank Friday destroyed two mobile homes in the park.

Kelly Jones, a Meadowland resident, said she was at home with her husband Friday evening when the storm hit. They initially thought it was only a thunderstorm, but after the power went out and large-size hail began raining down, they took cover in the bathroom, Jones said.

“It was just scary,” she said. “I was screaming.”

Jones said her power was out until Sunday evening, but she and her husband have been doing OK.

“We’ve got lots of family,” she said.

Yolanda Cooper-Brooks, a minister, said she was at her computer Friday when friends in another part of the state contacted her via Facebook about the storms affecting their area. All of sudden, Brooks said she heard what sounded like a train, complete with a whistling sound.

“It just shook the house and it wouldn’t let go of it,” she said. “It wouldn’t let go.

“Only after it did all of the damage it was going to do, did it let go of my house,” she said.

Not far away from Cooper-Brooks’ home, H.V. Cole, who owns the Meadowlands Mobile Home Park, said the two residents whose homes were destroyed have been relocated to other homes.

Cole, 76, was busy using a front-end loader to move broken tree limbs and debris from the storm.

“We’re trying to get people where they can get back in and live a little bit,” he said.

Cole estimates it will take about six weeks to complete the cleanup and repairs needed to the mobile home park.

To help the local Red Cross, mail disaster relief contributions to 1409 Parkview Drive, Elizabeth City, NC, 27909, or call 335-2185.

To help the Salvation Army, visit the local Family Store at 602 North Hughes Boulevard.