Team Seymour hosts Red Cross
By Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson, 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 28, 2016
SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew’s destructive force is still being felt more than a month after it stormed across the eastern coast leaving thousands of families homeless.
The hurricane caused an estimated $1.5 billion in damage to approximately 100,000 homes, businesses and government buildings in North Carolina alone, according to authorities.
While people were evacuated from the storm’s path, the Red Cross traveled to North Carolina to help.
“We have provided comfort and care to those affected. So when the hurricane first hit, we set up shelters for people who had to evacuate their homes, handed out supplies and started case work,” said Nicole Bartman, Red Cross staff member. “Most of the people here are on disaster assessment, so these are houses that we are going to provide case work for … We are in the process of wrapping up to start long-term recovery to help get people back on their feet.”
By Oct. 9, 80 shelters housing 3,824 people were open in Eastern North Carolina with help from the Red Cross. 180 volunteers and hundreds more signing up to assist, helped those affected by Hurricane Matthew.
“I’m just thankful to be able to be here and serve with our volunteers,” Bartman said. “I’ve been a staff member for the Red Cross for three years now, and they often give up their holidays with their family, so I thought I’d make the sacrifice to do the same thing.”
Since then, the Red Cross has sent 111 emergency response vehicles to deliver relief to hard-hit areas, distributed nearly 15,000 clean-up kits and more than 4,600 comfort kits. They also provided more than 35,000 overnight stays and served more than 824,000 meals and snacks across Eastern North Carolina.
Brittany Jennings, a regional communications officer at Red Cross, said generous donors are supporting the ongoing relief and recovery of people affected by the hurricane.
According to Jennings, estimates show the Red Cross relief effort could cost $21 million to $25 million. As of Nov. 8, the Red Cross had received nearly $13.3 million in designated donations and pledges, including the value of critical donated goods and services, to support Hurricane Matthew relief in the U.S.
"Powerful storms like Hurricane Matthew create greater needs than any one organization can meet alone. In Eastern North Carolina, the Red Cross is fortunate to be able to rely on our strong military partners to volunteer and help us meet the needs of our neighbors," said Barry Porter, regional CEO of the Red Cross in Eastern North Carolina. "Because of Seymour Johnson, the Red Cross is able to fulfill its humanitarian mission."
As a way to give back to the Red Cross volunteers and staff members, Team Seymour leadership welcomed them to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina for a short tour and to serve them a hot Thanksgiving meal at the base dining facility on Nov. 24.
“The biggest community involvement we’ve had is from the Red Cross,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Shepard, 4th Force Support Squadron section chief. “Coming on base, being able to eat with us and being able to give back to the disaster relief workers is huge.”
Shepard said hosting these volunteers means everything to him. He feels being able to host the volunteers that have been away from their families and are selflessly giving back to other people, especially during the holidays when it’s really tough to be away from family, is a very grateful and thankful moment.
More than 30 Red Cross volunteers and staff members arrived at Seymour Johnson AFB on Thanksgiving Day to share the holiday with FSS Airmen and wing leadership. They were given an Airman-led windshield tour of the base featuring highlights of the 4th Fighter Wing’s history and mission to provide dominant Strike Eagle air power anytime, anywhere.
“Thank you for inviting us for Thanksgiving because we are away from our families and homes. My family is away in Europe, so thank you so much for inviting me. We appreciate everything,” said Darius Lewandowski, Red Cross volunteer. “I’m most thankful to the American Red Cross for being so kind to me and letting me serve people and help them during the hard times. The fact that I’m able to be with the American Red Cross is amazing, and I’m thankful for the support to help people.”