A Beaming Smile Signals Hope

For years, dumpster-and debris-filled streets were reminders of Hurricane Florence for Sam and his community in New Bern, North Carolina. While time passes and rebuilding from the storm continues, Sam and other New Bern homeowners have seen relief from Florence as World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) volunteers repair homes and offer hope.

Hurricane Florence’s path brought the storm to North Carolina on September 14, 2018, when Florence approached land with 90-mph winds, a storm surge up to six feet, and 10 inches of rainfall in New Bern. The storm left almost 350 New Bern homeowners in need of rescue by emergency personnel and caused $100 million in damage. Sam and his wife were elderly homeowners who fearfully sheltered from Florence in their home.

After Florence passed, the couple found that while the foundation of the brick home stood strong during the storm, the interior sustained water damage to the flooring, walls, appliances, and more. Just recovering from the storm was difficult, and Sam experienced additional trials. Just two years after Florence, Sam’s wife passed on to glory. Paired with this grief, the moldy drywall and damaged floors of their family home were physical reminders that Sam desperately needed help to recover from Florence.

Thanks to World Renew’s partnership model, DRS volunteers completed home repairs in New Bern through one-week service teams that were guided by the Craven County Disaster Recovery Alliance (CCDRA). DRS volunteers were assigned to work on Sam’s home by the CCDRA, where they mudded and taped new drywall, painted, repaired the deck, fixed the bathroom tile and plumbing and power-washed the exterior siding. While volunteers repaired his house, they also encouraged Sam by listening to his story and building relationships together.

As the final team finished the repairs, he rejoiced, clapping his hands while flashing a beaming smile. Sam’s spirit was renewed after the loss he once faced from Hurricane Florence, nearly five years later!

While World Renew DRS continues to send volunteers to New Bern, North Carolina in response to Hurricane Florence, the community is now reeling from the damage of Tropical Storm Ophelia. With windspeeds of 55 mph, nearly five feet of storm surge, and five inches of rainfall, the tropical storm piled new challenges onto overlooked and under-resourced homeowners.

As natural disasters are on the rise, volunteers serving in disaster-impacted communities are becoming increasingly vital. To transform more realities of disaster survivors like Sam, visit worldrenew.net/volunteer.