Just south of Garland, Kyle Cashwell has more than 100 acres of farm land sitting in flooded waters. Rather than worrying about things he can’t change, Cashwell is busy assisting county employees and volunteers deliver food and water to the hardest hit areas of Sampson County.
Since Hurricane Matthew swept across the state, leaving behind power outages, washed out roads and destructive flooding, many residents of Sampson County have been left without water and power for nearly five days. For those who were hit the hardest, mainly Garland and the southern end of the county, with no way in our out, water and food are being brought in to the homes of those in need.
“The damage has been done,” Cashwell said. “I am not going to just sit at home and be worried. The Lord will take care of it.”
Cashwell has volunteered for the last three days, driving hundreds of miles, helping deliver cases of water and food to areas of the county that have been so greatly impacted by the devastation of the hurricane and haven’t had access to water and electricity.
Between Monday and Tuesday, 22 pallets of food and 87 pallets of water have been delivered to the fire departments across the county, which are serving as a distribution site for area residents.
Cashwell had the assistance of his three children, who all said they would rather be out making a difference rather than sitting at home and not doing anything.
“Most of these people need some help,” 13-year-old Larson said. “There are some people who have lost everything. The least we can do is give them food and water.”
The Sampson County Emergency Management Service had the water and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) brought in to distribute to those who were without water and power. In addition to the water and food, county employees and volunteers have delivered tarps, cleaning kits, medical supplies and blankets to local fire departments and schools that have been serving as a shelter.
Each home was given one case of water and two MREs per person in the house.
Zakia Fawn, a resident of Yankee Lane, is part of a 10-house neighborhood just off Bass Lake Road. They were stranded and still without power on Wednesday. The neighborhood includes 10 disabled and elderly and seven children, she said. She and her sister pleaded for any assistance.
“The only way in or out was destroyed,” Fawn stated.
She said National Guard was able to get water to them, but like many others, they were still without power and resources. With no roads and children, disabled and elderly to tend to, frustration was mounting.
“We need help,” Fawn stressed.
Assistant county manager Susan Holder said county officials were still responding to residents.
“While some of the flood waters have receded, critical areas continue to be monitored,” she said Wednesday. “Power continues to be steadily restored, but there are many who still need to be served. We are still in response mode, but will soon transition to recovery operations.”
In the meantime, Sampson County water customers remained under a Boil Water Advisory. Public Works staff were taking the necessary samples so that the advisory could be lifted, but that advisory was to remain in effect until further notice.
“If you are on the City of Clinton’s water system, your water is safe to drink,” City manager Shawn Purvis stated. “We do ask that you conserve and reduce usage in order to reduce sewer flow because our wastewater treatment operations are significantly strained from the flooding and power outages.”
As word continued to spread outside of Sampson of the devastation suffered, Holder said that many generous people had called offered donations or services to assist those impacted by Hurricane Matthew. She said people can call 910-592-8996 to put their names and phone number on our volunteer list.
Emergency food assistance and FEMA assistance announcements were being made continually through the “Sampson County” and “Town of Garland” Facebook pages.
“Many resources continue to flow in during the aftermath of the storm,” Garland Mayor Winifred Murphy stated.
On Wednesday, hot meals were served at the Garland Baptist Church on West Second Street at 12:30 p.m. and then again at 5:30 p.m. Hot meals will be distributed around lunch time at the Garland Fire Station. Water will also be provided. The meals at Garland Baptist Church and the Fire Station were provided courtesy of the American Red Cross and the NC Baptist Men’s Association.
They were to continue offering those meal on Thursday, with the hope that the need for those meals to be provided would taper off. Feed the Need Inc. also distributed chicken and rice, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water at McDaniel’s Mercantile in Parkersburg.
“These resources are extended to all Garland citizens in need, the Garland community, and all surrounding communities including Harrells, Ivanhoe, Ingold, Parkersburg who are without electricity or have no food to eat,” Murphy noted. “We are asking our Garland citizens who have been so blessed to have electricity restored since Sunday to please give first priority to those citizens who are still without electrical service and in more need.”
She said she was grateful for all who were pitching in throughout Aftermatthew.
“We thank the American Red Cross, the NC Baptist Men’s Association, the Emergency Operations Center, the Garland Baptist Church volunteers, the Garland Fire Department, town staff and all other local volunteers for helping out during this time,” the mayor stated.
Both Sampson County and Clinton City schools have made the announcement that school will be cancelled Thursday and Friday. Neither system has made a decision about make-up days.
Harrells Christian Academy announced earlier in the week that school would be cancelled through the end of this week.
Officials with Sampson Community College announced classes will not be held Thursday and Friday for students, but plans are to return Monday, Oct. 17, if possible.
Power outage updates
The number of people sitting in the dark continues to dwindle with each passing day.
Crew members from Duke Energy, South River Electric Membership Corporation and Four County Electric have worked tirelessly for the last five days to restore power to the thousands left without lights following Hurricane Matthew’s strong winds and rain.
According to Cathy O’Dell, vice president of member services and public relations for South River, the 192 linemen and tree experts were able to bring several substations online, dropping the outage numbers from 12,800 to 5,791. There are approximately 7,643 Duke Energy customers still without power.
The majority of areas that need to be restored are in Cumberland and Sampson counties, especially in the Stedman, Wade and Roseboro areas. There are still significant pockets of areas without electricity due to fallen trees and power lines and flooding.
About 1,000 members of Four County are waiting to receive electricity in the flooded areas of Bladen, Columbus, Duplin, Pender and Sampson counties.
The remaining outages, in part, represent individual services that will make progress seem slower.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.