After making landfall just outside of Wilmington, NC, in mid-September, Hurricane Florence wound up having devastating effects.
With its 90 mph winds, Florence left 800,000 people without power. Dumping 18 trillion gallons of water, it became the wettest tropical system to ever hit North and South Carolina, and caused a flooding crisis and emergency evacuations across the Carolinas.
In response, a group of Alfred State College volunteers recently traveled to New Bern, NC, where they teamed up with disaster relief organization All Hands and Hearts to help provide some much-needed help and make a difference in the lives of those affected by the storm.
Joining team leader Jaime White on the nearly weeklong trip were students Peter York, construction management, Akron; Joey Raziano, heavy equipment operations, Oakfield; Amina Lugonja, radiologic technology, Rochester; Katie Rustay, radiologic technology, Albion; Morgan Merry, radiologic technology, Rexville; and Masyn Hynes, radiologic technology, Retsof.
While in North Carolina, the volunteers assisted with residential flood cleanup, which included mucking and gutting, debris removal, debris cleaning, and mold sanitation. White, a clinical coordinator/instructional support assistant in radiologic technology at Alfred State, said being a part of the disaster relief trip was a wonderful and transformative experience.
“The work was hard but light. Your body was sore but your heart was full,” she said. “The people of New Bern were ever grateful and appreciative of our presence and our help. It felt so rewarding to know that we were helping people who had lost virtually everything get back into their homes and restore some semblance of normalcy to their lives. Seeing all of the volunteers who had taken time out of their lives restored something in me too: hope in the future and in humanity.”
Rustay said the trip was truly an eye-opening experience.
“When meeting the home owners who were impacted, you could see the joy in their faces,” she said. “This is what made all the hard work and exhaustion worth it! I would love to participate in another trip in the near future.”