Last September, as Hurricane Dorian made its way north from the Bahamas, it swept over Ocracoke Island, N.C., as a Category 1 hurricane. It caused a 7.4-foot storm surge that engulfed the 18-mile-long barrier island in unprecedented flooding. Half the island’s structures were damaged, including 417 primary residences and 194 rentals.
Darlene Styron, one of the island’s 1,100 permanent residents, was on the island during the hurricane. “It was pretty bad, actually,” she said. The next day, she made her way to the fire station, “the only place that was dry and big enough to start figuring out what to do.”
At first, as survivors stepped forward, their needs were recorded on one legal pad, Styron said. “By day eight to 10, we had everything in a Google spreadsheet,” accessible to the panoply of relief agencies that came to help remove fallen trees and muck and gut homes, and are now helping with repair and rebuilding.
The Ocracoke Interfaith Relief & Recovery Team (OIRRT) quickly organized to coordinate relief and lay the groundwork for long-term recovery, helping the most vulnerable survivors get the help they need to recover. Styron (pictured, far right) is now co-chair.
UCC Disaster Ministries’ $5,000 grant will help the OIRRT serve the island’s affected residents with advocacy, vetted case management, coordination of volunteers, grant writing, rebuilding, and donation management.