NC EMS, police aid Hurricane Matthew flood victims
EMS director: “This is the worst devastation I have ever witnessed”
By Joyce Orlando
CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. — Cleveland County EMS, Sheriff’s deputies and other emergency workers have spent the past several weeks helping people in the eastern part of the state affected by flood waters from Hurricane Matthew.
Perry Davis, director of Cleveland County Emergency Management Services and fire marshal, just returned after spending five days in Robeson County, where much of the area is still underwater.
“This is the worst devastation I have ever witnessed,” the 23-year EMS veteran said. “There are a lot of areas underwater still. There’s a lot of water everywhere.”
On Oct. 6, Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for all 100 counties in the Tar Heel state, in order to provide the necessary assistance to eastern North Carolina. The state emergency services made the call for help for counties affected by the floods from Hurricane Matthew shortly after it had passed.
The first reply to help from Cleveland County came three weeks ago, Davis said. Joe Lord, director of Cleveland County EMS, was the first to head out to Kinston, the eastern branch office for flood relief efforts. There, he has helped to coordinate efforts by emergency personnel to help those impacted by floods on the coast, Davis said.
Cleveland County EMS personnel Joshua Bowen, Kenneth Fox and Waylon Newman also went to Robeson County to help local EMS with service calls for almost two weeks, Davis said.
Davis was deployed with Robeson County Emergency Management to help order supplies for the local shelters, which still house more than 1,000 people displaced from their homes. He also helped keep firefighters and emergency personnel with power and usable water as they worked.
The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office sent six deputies to Robeson County to cover shifts for law enforcement. Chris Canipe, Elliott Newton, Aaron Shumate, Michael Lovelace, Jonathan Kendrick and Jordan Perkins volunteered to go to the flooded area to assist. Deputies have been in Robeson County since Monday.
"We sent an email out for volunteers. These guys stepped forward shortly (after it was sent)," Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman said.
The six deputies worked with Robeson County Sheriff's Office to help guard shelters and fresh water pump stations. They were expected to return to Cleveland County Wednesday night.
Along with emergency personnel, cadets and senior members with the Shelby Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron also received a call from the state wing of Civil Air Patrol to come help, Second Lt. Rebecca Smith said.
“Our tasking came down from the N.C. Wing of CAP, and we left for Kinston Jetport on Tuesday morning, Oct. 11. Our job was points of distribution, cleaning of the shelter for rescue crews and setting up and moving shelters for rescue crews and the Office of State Fire Marshals,” Smith said.
The group of six cadets and two senior members spent Tuesday through Friday stationed with FEMA's Missouri Task Force, the Army National Guard, Coast Guard, U.S. Marshalls, N.C. Forest Service and Charlotte's Search and Rescue Task Force.
“Although we did not go outside of the Kinston Jetport area to work, our cadets earned extremely valuable experience in real-life disaster relief and benefited from hands-on training from FEMA Missouri Task Force. The FEMA team took our cadets in so graciously and taught them swift water rescue techniques, boating rescue and search and rescue using trained search dogs,” Smith said.
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