CAMDEN — Camden Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Blount didn’t quite know what to expect when he went to Hyde County last week to get a look at one of the free trailer travels Hyde was giving away.

Hyde is giving away around 40 of the travel trailers it received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in 2019. The trailers were used to house residents of Ocracoke Island whose homes were destroyed or heavily damaged by the storm.

Hoping to use one of the travel trailers as a command post, the Camden Sheriff’s Office was interested in Hyde’s offer. But Blount didn’t know if the free trailers were new or older models, and he had no idea what condition they would be in after being used for several years.

Blount was surprised — and pleased — at the traveler trailers’ condition when he saw them. So pleased, in fact, he returned to Camden with one in tow.

“Wow,” Blount said Tuesday was his reaction when he saw the unit was in good condition.

Sheriff Kevin Jones was equally impressed with the Sheriff’s Office’s latest addition after seeing it on Blount’s return.

“I’m not sure if it was even used,” Jones said. “If it was then they did a good job of cleaning it up.”

Pasquotank-Camden-Elizabeth City Emergency Management and the Pasquotank Sheriff’s Office are also getting free travel trailers from Hyde County they hope to use as mobile command units, but neither has been picked up yet.

Receiving federal government surplus items is a way to provide needed equipment to the Sheriff’s Office without using county dollars, Jones said. He pointed to three generators the county also acquired from the federal government.

“I didn’t know what FEMA was going to do with it (the travel trailer), but they didn’t need to let it go to waste,” Jones said. “It’s pretty nice.”

Jones said the trailer will be used for multiple purposes, including support for deputies at an incident and as a classroom at the department’s shooting range.

“We can use it for a natural disaster or something like that,” Jones said. “If the deputies have to stay out all night they will have a place to relax. You can even take a shower in this thing.”

Jones said there are no plans to spend money to upgrade the travel trailer. He noted the department can use its portable radios in the new mobile command post.


“We can transmit with the radios we have without having to wire anything,” Jones said. “Right now, we plan on using it just like it is.”

Emergency Management and the Pasquotank and Camden Sheriff’s offices currently share an aging 1998 model mobile command bus. The three new trailers are model years 2016 to 2018.

Pasquotank Sheriff’s Office Maj. Aaron Wallio said the free travel trailer fills a big need for the department. Wallio also recently went to Hyde to pick out a travel trailer for Pasquotank.

Wallio said a mobile command post is needed for such large-scale events like the Potato Festival and for search and rescue missions.

“We can use it for a variety of things,” Wallio said.

Wallio said the current shared command bus is prone to breakdowns and the upkeep is expensive.

“There is always something wrong with it,” Wallio said. “Every time we need it there is a motor issue, a transmission issue or something else doesn’t work. It costs a fortune to keep it running.’’

Wallio said he and other deputies are familiar with travel trailers and most of the upfit work will be done in house. The department will have to install radios in the travel trailer but Wallio doesn’t have a cost estimate yet.

One change that will need to be made is removal of the trailer’s bunk beds, Wallio said.

“We were talking about it and we said we need a travel trailer because we can convert it into a mobile command vehicle,” Wallio said. “Most of the work we can do ourselves because we know campers and we have worked on campers. We have the trucks to move it when we need it.”

Emergency Management Coordinator Brian Parnell, who previously served as the Area 1 coordinator for the N.C. Division of Emergency Management, said he was aware that Hyde had the surplus travel trailers.

“I knew that after they are issued to a county like Hyde that sometimes they will no longer have a use for them,” Parnell said. “We needed to revamp our needs and I reached out to see what was available.”