Recovery groups hope summer volunteers help with Hurricane Matthew rebuilding

Annabella Christensen (left) along with homeowner Marjorie Shaw. Photo by Robert Richardson/CBS North Carolina.

TARBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Disaster recovery groups hope the summer break will bring volunteers to help with rebuilding after Hurricane Matthew.

Marjorie Shaw is eager to have the extra volunteers as she hasn’t been able to move back into her Tarboro home since evacuating in October.

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It’s her second time dealing with devastation. Hurricane Floyd flooded the house in 1999, but 56 years after she moved in, she has no interest in being anywhere else.

“Home is home. I know I’ve gone through it twice. It’s a little hard, but this time I didn’t lose everything,” Shaw said.

Volunteers from United Methodist Disaster Response and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh spent Saturday hanging drywall and securing sub-flooring. Previous weeks of labor included replacing wiring and insulation.

“This is the first day we’ve been able to go ahead and put drywall in, and then we’ll have another group come in, do the mudding and taping, and painting, and then finish flooring, so it’s a lot of parts,” UMC Construction Manager Brooks Wadsworth said.

“One of our primary goals as a faith community is to help bring hope, and one of the ways is to work the best we can to get them back in their homes as soon as they can. It’s a long wait for them,” Wadsworth added.

Wadsworth said they are in the second phase of a three-part process.

Most of the volunteers at Shaw’s house this weekend came from Raleigh or Swansboro.

Daniel Altenau with Catholic Charities Disaster Services said he hopes participation in recovery efforts will increase while students are out of school and families plan activities together.

“There’s not enough resources ever to really meet the needs in (the) community quickly,” Altenau said.

“Continuing to work and continuing to assist families requires more volunteers and more donations to meet the need than is out there.”

Annabella Christensen is a recent high school graduate from Raleigh. She and her younger sister Clarissa said they spent Friday cleaning their own home and needed something different to do.

They saw a flyer for Saturday’s volunteer opportunity on the Catholic Charities’ website and decided to make the drive to Edgecombe County to help.

Christensen said she’s never done any volunteer work as big or as far away, and compared it to an adventure.

“There’s no better way to spend your time than just by helping other people, from other communities and your own,” Annabella Christensen said.

The homeowner said it really touched her heart to have the helpers.

“It’s just a blessing to see them come. It is really a blessing. The Lord knows I’m really doing the best I can,” Shaw said.

“It just gives me a pleasure to see them. Love ’em, love ’em, love ’em, and I cry every time I leave, and I don’t have anything to give them, but a hug.”

For the volunteers, it’s all they need.

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