Making a Difference One Step at a Time

Each year, an average of 5.9 hurricanes hit the Atlantic coastline with 2.5 of those hurricanes reaching Category 3 status or greater. While this may seem like a low number, it does not affect the destruction that a hurricane can cause. This year saw ten hurricanes ranging from Category 1 to Category 5 status. While some on the lower scale did not make an impact, there were a few that did, bringing devastation and destruction with it.

Hurricane Harvey, Category 4, brought torrential rains and flooding to Houston, Texas; Hurricane Irma, Category 5, set a record for being the strongest Atlantic storm outside of the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea; and Hurricane Matthew, Category 5, is remembered as the hurricane with the skull shaped system shown on the radar, which is fitting due to the mass destruction it caused from the Caribbean to the Southeast U.S.

Each hurricane made major news, but after the hurricanes died down and dissipated, news outlets did not provide much coverage. The media did cover the hurricane aftermath during the weak after, but moved on to current and breaking news event. Without media coverage, the public may not give much thought about what the communities are doing to rebuild communities. Many people that were affected by the hurricanes are left to rebuild entire homes, seek loved ones and deal with the grief of an unfathomable event. These people need help getting back on their feet and getting back to a “normal” life.

Tarboro, North Carolina is one small location that continues with the cleanup of Hurricane Matthew. Pastor Derek Wadlington and 11 Wilson students are planning a trip in January to help the townspeople who witnessed the power of a hurricane. Pastor Wadlington and the students depart Sun, Jan. 14, 2018, and arrive back Sat, Jan. 20, 2018. During their time in Tarboro, they will assist with several projects ranging from building a house, painting, cleaning up and simply listening to people share their stories.

Pastor Wadlington remarked that this will be a great opportunity for the students. “It’s a great opportunity where the students will be learning new skills and gaining new life experiences. The students will be providing assistance to those who really need it. Volunteering is dedicating your time to help someone else out in a situation and is good for the soul.”

Pastor Wadlington teamed up with the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and the Land A Hand program to coordinate the trip. He mentioned since Wilson is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., it was a perfect match. PDA is the emergency and refugee program of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. which focuses on long term recovery of disaster impacted communities. PDA coordinates different trips to different locations and assigns volunteers to those locations. Pastor Wadlington discovered the need in Tarboro and contacted PDA. Lend A Hand’s mission and purpose is to coordinate a reliable system of transportation, labor, housing and meals, and job assignments for volunteers who wish to help people suffering extraordinary hardship as the result of natural disasters.

Pastor Wadlington hopes this will bring back the spotlight on natural disaster and that it takes longer than a week, a month, or even a year to rebuild a community after a disaster. Just because a community no longer receives media attention does not mean that their lives are back to normal. The physical impact after a disaster can last for years and the mental impact can last a lifetime.

For more information on how you can get involved, check on PDA’s website at http://pda.pcusa.org/page/how-we-work/ and Lend A Hand’s website at https://www.lendahand.net/.

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