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The Daily Tar Heel

Florence has passed, but UNC continues relief efforts for Eastern N.C.

fill the truck
(From left to right) Jed Higdon, Luisa Brooks, Michele Fulton and Jessica Bevard sort donated items at the "Fill the Truck" relief drive for Hurricane Florence early Tuesday morning on Oct. 9, 2018.

Nearly a month after Hurricane Florence hit the coast of the Carolinas, UNC continues to respond to Eastern North Carolina’s demands for hurricane relief by sending a second truck of donated supplies to the affected areas in Jones County and the Coharie and Waccamaw Siouan tribes. 

‘Fill the Truck Round 2’ took place Monday and Tuesday in the Williamson lot across from the Smith Center. The event featured a group of organizers and volunteers who accepted donations, packed them into categorized boxes and loaded them onto the football team’s 53-foot equipment truck. The truck left at 1 p.m. Tuesday and arrived later that day and was equipped with various supplies ranging from feminine hygiene products to food provisions.

This second shipment followed the first ‘Fill the Truck’ donation drive, a 4-day initiative from Sept. 18 to 21 for the affected communities of Robeson County. A collaborative effort between UNC Athletics and the Carolina Center for Public Service, the collection amounted to more than 60,000 pounds of supplies. Despite having to contend with flooded roads, the truck successfully made it to Robeson County, where more than 400 people helped unload the boxes. 

Tricia Daisley, development officer at the Carolina Center for Public Service, said CCPS received an outpouring of thanks from the people of Robeson County after the first shipment. As a result of the overwhelming success of the earlier donation drive, other affected areas have requested help from CCPS, which led them to organize a second truck. 

“The folks who are anticipating this round of supplies really are in such dire need, and they are really really appreciative that people, three weeks out, haven’t forgotten that there’s still just as much need as there was three weeks ago,” Daisley said.

Until Monday, CCPS collected donation items at select locations around campus, including the Campus Y and the Gillings School of Global Public Health. In addition to the donations accepted at the Williamson parking lot, these supplies will be a part of the second shipment. 

Among the people donating on Tuesday was Kristen Smith Young, the advancement communications manager at the UNC School of Government.

“We decided as a school to collect donations to bring them down here," Young said. "The School of Government is supporting local governments in those areas through our emergency management resources and other local government resources."

The UNC School of Government is one of many campus groups who worked together over the past month to respond to the needs of Hurricane Florence victims. Students involved with the APPLES Service-Learning Program and the Buckley Public Service Scholars have also been integral in helping CCPS execute their donation drives. 

“I think it’s important that we do the most that we can to help out the relief effort," said Jessica Bevard, a sophomore biology major and Buckley Service Scholar who volunteered to load the truck.

As a part of their campus-wide effort for hurricane relief, CCPS is also organizing a relief trip on Oct. 19. The group will leave campus at 7:30 a.m. and return by 6:30 p.m., and CCPS will provide the partner organizations, transportation, supplies and meals for the volunteers. This trip will mainly focus on cleaning up the debris and damaged infrastructure. 

“At this early stage, it’s what they call ‘muck and gut,’" Daisley said. "So we basically go into houses or schools or churches or whatever the need is and really just help rip out stuff that was destroyed by the storm."

After the preliminary clean-up stage, the relief trips will begin community rebuilding and development, aiming to create sustainable solutions specific to each community’s needs. CCPS is dedicated to addressing need for as long as necessary, which Daisley emphasized in mentioning their continued efforts to help victims of Hurricane Matthew. Even two years after Matthew, CCPS organized a trip this past August to Lumberton, N.C. and they are looking to uphold a similar commitment to long-term support for Hurricane Florence victims as well. 

To secure the help they need in providing this support, CCPS offers guidance to groups, departments or schools that want to orchestrate their own service trip to hurricane-impacted areas. Disaster relief grants are also available to give funding to those who are interested in planning and attending such trips. As the hurricane becomes a less recent event, CCPS hopes the generosity and assistance of the Carolina community will continue into the future.

“The thing that I think is important for this kind of communication is for people to know that there are so many places that need assistance, and they all have different needs, so try to keep (the relief effort) as top-of-mind as possible,” Daisley said.

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