The debris-covered streets of Autryville were consumed with residents, organizations and relief efforts Wednesday morning, all hoping to lend a helping hand following the devastation brought by a tornado the day before.
On the scene at the Autryville Fire Department, which was leveled during the destruction, were members of neighboring fire departments, the United Way of Sampson County, Sampson County Emergency Services and dozens of line-crew members from the power company, all working to bring the town to some what of a normalcy.
Following Hurricane Matthew, members of United Way traveled across the county, setting up centers and distributing much needed items to residents who were left with little to nothing following the storm. Wednesday morning, Nancy Carr, executive director, Sherrill Allen and Sarah Bradshaw once again hitched the organization’s trailer to a truck and made the trip west on N.C. 24, bringing some sort of hope to those residents hit hardest Tuesday afternoon.
“Our goal is to be one of the first to respond in the event of a disaster,” Carr said.
According to Carr, nearly $8,000 was donated to the organization to help with disaster relief. With the money, United Way purchased 40 comforters, 40 sheet sets, 200 towels, 40 sets of pots and pans, 40 cutlery sets, 80 pillows, 40 blankets, 40 dish towels and oven mitts, and 40 bath mats.
“This money was an opportunity for us to go ahead and be an immediate benefit to those families who are affected by disaster,” Carr explained. “We weren’t sure if what we already had would help, but it was perfect for this family.”
Torie Turner and Gerald Locklear, who live in Autryville, were sitting at home Tuesday afternoon when they heard a noise outside. When Locklear opened the front door to his mobile home, the force and pressure from the wind nearly pulled him out.
The tornado ripped the roof off Turner and Locklear’s home, leaving the couple displaced and with little to nothing of their own left.
“I have a Jesus picture hanging on my wall,” Turner shared, as she stood surveying her belongings that were strewn across the yard. “That picture is still hanging there. If it hadn’t been for Jesus, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Carr, Allen and Bradshaw pulled up in front of the destroyed mobile home Wednesday morning, and had a ray of sunshine to offer Turner and Locklear. From those items purchased after the hurricane, United Way gave the Autryville couple bedding, towels, pots and pans, oven mitts and other items lost in the tornado.
“The wind has blown everything I had a part,” Turner said.
The United Way wasn’t the only group to step up and help by donating items. Local businesses donated food items that were housed in a tent donated by the Fayetteville Fire Department. Businesses like Hardees, Pizza Hut, Walgreens and Dollar General of Salemburg brought food, water and supplies for those working at the scene of the destruction.
“I am amazed at the outpouring of love shown by this community,” CiCi Scott, ladies auxiliary for the Autryville Fire Department, said.
According to Scott, area fire departments were covering shifts for the Autryville area until the department can get back to normal.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.