As fight over federal relief continues, NC Baptists helping those hurt by Matthew

(Robert Richardson | CBS North Carolina)


LUMBERTON, N.C. (WNCN) — Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts in North Carolina won’t get as much help as hoped from the federal government, but neighbors lending hands can step in and fill some of that void.

North Carolina Baptists on Mission have a goal of repairing and rebuilding 1,000 Matthew-damaged homes in the next two years. Disaster relief coordinator Gaylon Moss said 24 homes are complete and crews are currently working on several others.

“We’re always hopeful for a greater response of volunteers, especially the further we get away from a disaster, the more difficult it is for people to remember that there are folks that are struggling,” Moss said.

“It’s a team effort. It takes everybody to help a family recover,” he said. “You could be the one who helps someone else recover from Hurricane Matthew.”

Teams from Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh and Biltmore Baptist Church near Asheville are working on homes in Robeson County this week. Baptists on Mission also has sites based in Bertie, Duplin, Pender, and Wayne Counties.

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The Raleigh crew installed flooring in a house in Lumberton.

“We’ve been blessed at home and in our lives, and it’s time for us as a church and as a disaster relief team to give back. We do it for love, and that is our reward,” Louis Pearce said.

The people who own the house where Pearce and his team worked are among thousands still displaced nine months after Matthew.

With much less federal funding, individual involvement is essential.

“They don’t have funds to build a new house, but you can volunteer a little bit of your time, and maybe get somebody back on their feet,” Biltmore volunteer Terry Gravely said.

In addition to finding people to put in work, volunteer coordinators say financial donations from individuals, churches, and companies are also key to rebuilding.

“It’s very hard to do anything without funding. The volunteers are very important, but without funding, you have no money to buy the materials,” Lumberton site coordinator Billy Layton said.

“We need to reach out to find more volunteers as well as funds to come with them.”

Layton said he’s already received more than 170 applications from people requesting help getting back into their homes. He anticipates 400-500 more in the next year.

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