On a humid October morning in New Bern, Byun Serchom grabs a clothespin and searches for a warm spot on the deck outside of her mobile home. With a flurry of activity around her, Serchom pulls soaking wet papers out of a sheet protector as the wet ink smudges across the thin plastic that once kept her documents safe from harm. “I can’t believe you found these,” Serchom said, lifting her U.S. certificate of citizenship into the sunlight that soon turned the sodden mess into a more recognizable form. “I looked for them before the storm and couldn’t find them. They’re very important to me.”
East Carolina University students brought new ideas and innovations to the university’s BrainSTORM make-a-thon event on Oct. 4, offering fresh perspectives to problems that plague communities after natural disasters. Nearly 60 students attended the seven-hour event at the university’s Innovation Design Lab, exploring problems encountered by families, businesses and first responders, and prototyping solutions to those challenges.
At East Carolina University, every Pirate is called to serve. Some just spring into action a little quicker than others during times of emergency, lending a helping hand to their neighbors in need. Freshman Michael Hinson found himself in that exact situation during Hurricane Florence. Sitting in his living room during the storm, Hinson and his friends from his hometown of Wake Forest decided to take matters into their own hands.
East Carolina University students will travel to Washington, N.C., during fall break to volunteer with local nonprofit organizations and aid recovery efforts for Hurricane Florence. The three-day trip, offered by the ECU Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, includes 25 hours of community service and a chance to learn how area leaders design the change they want to see in their communities.
Since Hurricane Florence struck eastern North Carolina two weeks ago, groups across East Carolina University have stepped up to help, including the ECU Police Department. In the aftermath of the hurricane, ECU Police Officers immediately mobilized to assist other UNC System institutions and neighboring communities that received catastrophic damage from the storm. Many areas suffered damage from high winds, but it was the flooding during and immediately after the storm that caused thousands of families, businesses and students to be displaced or lose their homes.
When Hurricane Florence brought devastation to the Carolinas, students, faculty and alumni from the Brody School of Medicine made sure they were in position to serve the region’s patients and storm victims – not only in the immediate aftermath of the storm, but for the months and years ahead. Dr. Todd Kornegay, a 2006 Brody graduate and internist at the New Hanover Medical Group’s central office in Wilmington, slept on an air mattress in that office with his 9-months-pregnant wife, Jennifer, in order to help treat patients at nearby New Hanover Regional Medical Center and a pair of area shelters.
East Carolina University’s efforts to help those affected by Hurricane Florence are off to a quick start thanks to early success from its community-wide food drive. During its first week, the food drive – led by East Carolina Undaunted and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina – brought in more than 6,200 pounds of water, food and household supplies. In all, 10 pallets were filled with supplies, servicing 10 counties in eastern North Carolina with the capacity to serve nearly 5,300 meals.
The community of St. Pauls in southeastern North Carolina has become well versed in the damage that hurricanes can cause, and ECU College of Nursing faculty member Dr. Michelle Skipper and her husband Bruce have become the local experts on helping their community weather the storms. As Hurricane Florence brought flooding and power outages to the region beginning Sept. 14, the Skippers prepared to help their community once again. When College of Nursing faculty members learned that Skipper’s community was again one of the most in need of supplies, they began collecting donations from students, faculty and staff to send down.
Hurricane Florence made a sharp left turn as it made landfall in southeastern North Carolina, sparing Greenville from the worst of its fury. Now, Pirates are responding, banding together to come to the aid of those in areas harder hit by the storm. The cleanup and recovery effort began at home, with ECU Police and facilities personnel monitoring conditions on campus throughout the storm, and then assessing and addressing damage even as it continued to dump rain across the state.
East Carolina University has set up a recovery operations center for those affected by Hurricane Florence and created a website where individuals and businesses may request assistance and the ECU community may volunteer to help with recovering and rebuilding from the storm and its flooding. Through the website, ECU will match faculty, staff, students, alumni and community volunteers with civic and community organizations to assist in recovery efforts in North Carolina’s eastern counties as well as offer technical assistance to eastern North Carolina businesses through various offices and specialists at ECU.
Have questions about Hurricane Florence? We’re here to answer them.