Cindy Cook watched thankfully Tuesday as volunteers worked to clean up her yard and climbed up on her roof to make repairs caused by the winds from Hurricane Matthew.
Matthew made his approach just a week after Cook’s husband, Dwight, passed away; and the task of repairing the damage from the storm was something she could not tackle on her own due to her health.
When she called for help Monday she was referred to the United Way. They had volunteers ready to help the next day.
“This means a lot,” Cook said as the volunteers worked outside. “They just called (Tuesday) morning and I had no idea they’d be here this afternoon.
“I think my husband is looking out for me. I’m thankful for everyone.”
Among the volunteers on hand were members of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron-26.
“We all like volunteer hours and giving back to the community,” Cpl. Lee Trotter said.
United Way of Onslow County Vice President April Priester said the organization has multiple Marine units they work with on a regular basis, and they reached out to the New River unit in anticipation of the calls for help they would receive.
“We didn’t know what kind of calls we would get, so we reached out to the Marines so we knew we’d be ready,” Priester said.
The coordination of volunteers is one of two efforts underway by the local United Way to help with recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
Anyone wishing to help with tasks such as debris cleanup and minor home repairs can call 910-938-HELP(4357) or sign up to assist at volunteeronslow.org.
The United Way has already begun mobilizing volunteers to locations where they are needed, and anyone interested in helping is encouraged to sign up as soon as possible.
“The faster we can respond the better,” United Way of Onslow County President Craig J. Wagner said.
Those who are not able to volunteer can also be a part of recovery efforts through a financial donation.
A disaster relief fund established after the tornadoes that hit Onslow County in 2011 has been activated for the first time to help local organizations providing assistance to local residents in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
The Jacksonville-Onslow Disaster Relief Fund, which is administered by United Way of Onslow County, was activated Monday based on the declared state of emergency for the county due to the hurricane. The fund was created to help with unmet needs that insurance or government assistance cannot provide by distributing short-terms funds to community nonprofit agencies that stand ready to help provide short-term relief in the immediate days after the storm and in recovery efforts afterward.
The United Way of Onslow County serves as a centralized clearinghouse for financial donations to aid in recovery after disasters. All donations go toward disaster relief efforts in Onslow County, and none of the funds can be used for administrative costs.
“One hundred percent goes to disaster relief services in the county,” Wagner said.
And all of the funds stay local to help Onslow County residents.
“It’s the only fund of its kind and stays within Onslow County,” Wagner said.
Wagner stresses, however, that the United Way does not distribute the disaster relief funds to individuals.
Rather, nonprofit organizations within the community that are vetted to ensure they meet fund guidelines are eligible to request grants through the fund to provide assistance to their clients who are seeking help to recover from the storm.
“We’re not writing checks to individuals,” Wagner said. “We’re a clearinghouse for donations to provide disaster relief funds to agencies within the county that are helping to fill the gap to cover unmet needs.”
United Way of Onslow County sought a way to respond to the unmet needs of residents following the 2011 tornado outbreak and was then approached about administering a donation from the local members of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association. From there the process and procedure for the Jacksonville-Onslow Disaster Relief Fund was created.
Wagner said they have been contacting local organizations to make them aware of available resources and spreading the word about the fund’s activation.
Eligible agencies can apply for funds by visiting uwonslow.org/disaster-relief-fund to register. Individuals interested in making a donation can text the words onslowdisaster to 91999 to make a tax deductible donation.