AmeriCorps Joins the Initiative to Help Communities Affected by Hurricane Florence

Americorps members with Governor Roy Cooper all wearing yellow vests
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - 10:08am

For years, AmeriCorps programs and its members have been helping communities move forward and recover from the damage caused by disasters. The need for aid after Hurricane Florence is no different. Kayla Williams, an American Disaster Response Team (ADRT) incident commander, with AmeriCorps assigned to Hurricane Florence, saw it all first-hand. 

“North Carolina has an immense need for response. There is a lot more damage than people know and a lot of people are still suffering from previous hurricanes,” Williams said. 

AmeriCorps is a volunteer program, supported by the federal government and private sources, which offers public service opportunities to adults. With AmeriCorps, Williams spent much of her time helping senior citizens and at-risk individuals whose homes are in flood zones of Bladen, Craven, Duplin, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow and Pender counties. Williams and her team of volunteers, which ranged from nine to twelve people researched issues by using social maps and finding new opportunities to help communities through word of mouth. 

Some of the things that the people who were affected by Hurricane Florence needed help with include paying bills, finding solutions for transportation needs, getting their electricity back on and removing mold caused by flooding from their homes.  

By the end of Williams’s assignment, 115 tasks were completed. Additionally, 57 homes were repaired, rebuilt and/or sanitized. A lack of funding prevented the teams of AmeriCorps in North Carolina from being able to accommodate every person who requested help from them. “We needed more people to help with AmeriCorps, as the ratio at one point was 40 people to a 200 – person response asking for help,” Williams said. 

The homes in Pender and Duplin counties were in need of a lot of sanitation and reconstruction. “It was definitely labor intensive and time-consuming, as about 90 percent of the homes had dry wall glued in the homes (as opposed to being properly secured) in previous repairs,” Williams said. “It slowed the process down significantly.” 

AmeriCorps also worked with the Word of Faith Ministries, a local food bank in Duplin County, where donations were given to help Florence victims. AmeriCorps helped them distribute more than 45,000 pounds of donations which included food and other necessities. “It is definitely worth it to fund AmeriCorps from the initial response or join an AmeriCorps program as the help is always needed,” Williams added. 

AmeriCorps offers a variety of service opportunities, from the classroom to the outdoors, and everything in between. No matter what you're passionate about, where you're from, or why you choose to serve, AmeriCorps is one organization that can give you a chance to be the greater good. 

Tierra Bethel