By Brent Rinehart
All throughout Carteret County, there are piles on the sides of the roads. Limbs and brush, furniture, mattresses, appliances and more - all evidence of a community trying to put the pieces back together.
Now that power has been fully restored, people are returning to their homes to assess the damage and begin the arduous task of cleaning up. Many homes encountered flooding, so everything has been destroyed. People are ripping out carpet, and bleaching away the mold and mildew.
On Tuesday, Salvation Army crews canvassed the county, dropping off cleanup kits with much needed essentials including disinfectant, scrubbing brushes, gloves, towels and other supplies. These 5-gallon buckets are a start for these families facing a long road ahead.
“Our prayer is that these clean up kits are more than just what’s inside,” said Lt. Jeremy Lind. “We hope these are a little glimpse of Jesus.”
Lind, and other Salvation Army disaster workers, spent the morning driving to different Down East communities to check in on the local residents.
In Cedar Island, a community at the far eastern tip of Carteret County, the staff at the fire department was grateful.
“The Salvation Army has been our saving grace,” Fire Chief Rodney Smith said. “They were here from the beginning.” Larry Land, a board member with the local Salvation Army of Carteret County, has been dropping food and checking on this community on a regular basis. Now, the local Cedar Island fire department has turned its attention to take care of others who have been impacted even more.
In Marshallberg, the sign outside of the Marshallberg Fire Department read “Need clean up kits.” So, the Salvation Army’s arrival today was met with applause and pictures. “This is all we needed!” one local resident remarked.
In Otway, Marie and David were just returning from Florida. They evacuated and escaped the storm but their home certainly didn’t. Clean up kits and a tarp were all they needed.
“We just got back and don’t know where to start,” Marie said. “This is a huge help.” They took four buckets for their home and their neighbors.
In Harkers Island, The Salvation Army has had a constant presence, feeding and providing supplies and support. This morning, one resident summed up the experience: “What a blessing The Salvation Army has been to this community.”
In the small community of North River, residents are still picking up the pieces. “This was a bad one here. People underestimate it, but water is devastating,” Alton Davis, chief at the North River Fire Department said.
Davis himself saw extensive damage at his own home. Yet, he was thrilled to receive clean up kits. At the station this evening, Davis is hosting dinner and a supply pickup. Residents will be able to come by and receive clothing and cleaning supplies.
“Thank you for everything y’all have done,” Davis said. But, the community fire department has done just as much for its community. And, that has been the case at each of the small communities throughout Carteret County.
A message written on the side of a discarded refrigerator on Highway 70 said, ”Thank all of y’all.” In this case, it includes The Salvation Army, the utility workers from all over the country, and the neighbors who have been looking out for each other.