DPS Employees Go Hands-On to Help Brighten a Hurricane Survivor’s Day

Friday, September 13, 2019 - 4:47pm

Any time an emergency strikes North Carolina, the Department of Public Safety pulls together as a singular entity and focuses on helping to prevent serious injury, protect lives and property and prepare everyone for what issues may arise. Recovery efforts often include countless meetings, mounds of paperwork and providing resources where needed. 

There are times, however, when employees get involved and use their talents in a more hands-on manner. Such was the case on Sept. 13 when staff from several DPS sections worked to assist the North Carolina Baptists on Mission in putting some final repairs on a Lumberton house damaged from two hurricanes, Matthew and Florence.

The consensus of the 10 DPS employees who worked in the heat and humidity of this September day in Robeson County was unanimous: It felt so good to do whatever it took to allow the homeowner the opportunity to move back in a home that was clean and had fresh coats of paint.

“We’re used to dealing with storm survivors from another level,” said Chief Deputy Secretary Pam Cashwell. “It was rewarding to be in someone’s home doing the work and seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Whatever needed to be done was done with determination, at times laughter and overall with precision and care. Other groups preceded DPS in doing some painting, floor work and clean-up. But with the smell of Acetone wafting as staff scrubbed floors to clean floor glue and paint spots, it didn’t matter whether you were a lawyer, engineer, communications professional, policy expert or an administrator. Whatever needed to be done was done by the DPS staff with a glad heart and singular purpose.

“I’m happy to be able to help,” Chief Deputy Secretary Casandra Hoekstra said. “Sometimes the work we do is not the same as actually being out of the office and in the field so to speak. I’m excited about doing this and I’m sure the homeowner is anxious to get back home. We’ll try to get it as nice as possible.”

Staff painted whatever needed painting, from doors to trim. Staff sat in a tub and removed blackened caulk and scrubbed grout created from months of humid weather and neglect. Staff hauled trash and pitched in wherever needed, all the while knowing what they were doing would make a difference.

“It feels good to be out here cleaning up the house,” said Mike Daniska, the director of the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning. “It feels good to come out here and be able to get the homeowner’s life back on track.”

DPS staff who participated were Jeff O’Briant, Pamela Walker, John Bull, Wil Darcus, Jane Savatteri, Casandra Hoekstra, Jane Gilchrist, Pam Cashwell, Mike Daniska, and Jerry Higgins.


Jerry Higgins, Communications Officer