Three F3HR PAX took the trip down to Wilmington, NC to assist with recovery efforts from Hurricane Florence. We left Hampton Roads Friday evening after work and spent the night at YHC’s in-laws’ house. At 0445 Saturday morning we hit the road again to drive to Wrightsville Beach where we joined F3 Cape Fear for a beatdown at their Baywatch AO. This beatdown included a pretty brutal warmup followed by some lighthearted relays out on the beach. Fellowship was good and Hampton Roads was represented well with Average Joe on a winning relay team and coming home with a commemorative hatchet.
After the workout and a stop for breakfast that raised a few questions, we headed inland to the town of Burgaw, NC where we met the other volunteers for the day. We were assigned a house a few miles away from the church that was the operations hub, and we got to work. The house was a single story home that was up on stilts. However, they still had water damage from the three feet of water in the main floor when the river behind the house rose by 25 feet. The house was structurally sound, but it needed to be completely gutted. The personal belongings had already been removed, so we got to work removing all of the sheetrock and insulation, taking the home down to bare studs. The family that owned the home was also there, assisting as they were able. Lunch was provided by several of the families in the neighborhood, and then we went back to work. We finished cleanup at that house, and went to join other volunteers at a house down the street and helped finish up gutting that house as well. There were other houses on the list for the day, but they needed wet insulation pulled out of the crawl space and there were no more Tyvek suits, so with it being late afternoon and all of the other volunteers starting to head home, we decided to call it a day.
Big takeaways for the day were just the sheer amount of work that still needs to be done. There are giant piles of ruined personal belongings on the side of the roads, and they stretch for miles. We saw families living in tents in front of their ruined homes, and we saw row upon row of condemned mobile homes. The storm was six weeks ago and is no longer being covered on the news, but the families that were affected will be trying to rebuild for years. If anyone else has the opportunity to go down and provide some assistance, there is till much to be done. All of the families we interacted with were very grateful for the work that we were doing. Even at the end of a long day of hard work, there were no feelings of accomplishment, only a realization of how much still needs to be done.