Triangle Mutual Aid held a supply drive on Monday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m at Carrboro Town Commons to support those affected by Hurricane Ian in Florida.
Triangle Mutual Aid works with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, a national grassroots organization that provides support for survivors of disasters.
Devin Ceartas, a community organizer who works with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief in the Triangle area, explained that the organization is a grassroots, non-governmental project of people helping one another.
The Monday supply drive was a collaboration with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief's hurricane response. The organization sent a box truck from Virginia to pick up hurricane relief supplies in cities and towns on the way to impacted areas in Florida.
Mutual Aid Disaster Relief currently has distribution hubs operating in Tampa, Orlando, Sarasota and Fort Myers.
Ceartas said during big disasters like Hurricane Ian, local retail and home improvement stores may run out of supplies to fix leaks or holes in roofs. Tarps and other supplies are almost entirely sold out in central Florida, he said.
“In mutual aid, we stress the mutuality of the work and the solidarity,” Ceartas said.
He added that the donations from the drive in Carrboro may be combined with supplies from people in other towns and cities, before being delivered to the Florida community.
“We’re doing a supply drive that is community-driven,” Ceartas said.
He said the goal of the drive is to foster collective action and solidarity with people in impacted areas and build up a local capacity for responding to disasters.
Ceartas also said Triangle Mutual Aid wants to bring people together with community building and educational aspects and see how people can respond collectively to emergencies.
Danny Nowell, a member of the Carrboro Town Council, said the support drive is a noble effort but one the Town of Carrboro is not officially involved in.
Nowell said supply drives and other community work after natural disasters can build lasting, broader and more durable communities.
“It’s been a pretty incredible bridge from this community to other places,” Nowell said.
He also said local support organization is important because people will see more weather disasters in the future, and it may be difficult for local governments to respond quickly.
Nowell said he encourages people to find their mutual aid organization and to think about civic participation.
Community members, including two families, brought items for the supply drive, Ceartas said. He has also already received money for a donation.
Some of the supplies Triangle Mutual Aid received at the drive were tarps, roofing nails, contractor beds and five-gallon buckets, Ceartas said.
He also said Mutual Aid Disasters Relief has funded a solar trailer, with solar panels and batteries to store electricity, that is pulled behind a vehicle. He said this trailer allows people in Florida areas without power to charge cell phones and other electronics.
Rodrigo Tossi, a collaborator with Triangle Mutual Aid, said there is a natural reaction to help when there is a crisis in the community.
He said that in his native country of Chile, people deal with many natural disasters, and communities react quickly in solidarity with one another.
“I believe that it is essential that the community of Chapel Hill and Carrboro mobilize to coordinate help in the coming moments, for the reconstruction and repair of homes, and support in the needs that arise from the affected community itself,” Tossi said in an email via translator.
In addition to the supply drive in Carrboro, there was a donation site in Hillsborough from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday. After that event, Ceartas met with the Mutual Aid Disaster Relief workers who drove down from Virginia.
"Two people who had driven down from Virginia met me at the local Home Depot," Ceartas said in an email. "We spent $2,466 from the cash donations I'd received there, and I gave $50 cash to them for gas on their way.”
Ceartas said the truck's next stops are Asheville, Knoxville and Atlanta.
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