Salvation Army trio head to aid storm victims

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Local Salvation Army volunteer Michele Perkins makes sure the interior of the agency's mobile canteen is secure before its departure with her and two other volunteers to help victims of Hurricane Florence, Thursday.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Salvation Army of Elizabeth City is the latest local agency to send volunteers to help fellow North Carolinians recovering in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

Thursday morning, Jeff Sawyer, Michele Perkins and Christina Blackmon left Elizabeth City in the Salvation Army’s mobile canteen. The trio were headed to Pitt County where they were to receive instructions on where they are needed.

Besides providing hot food, snacks, coffee and water to storm victims, the trio of volunteers are expected to help provide comfort to victims who are trying to put back together their lives amid the devastation of Hurricane Florence. 

"If I can be of use to anybody that's in need, that's my main thing," Perkins said.

"I'm ready to go and bring a smile and some comfort," Blackmon said.

Maj. Kenny Clewis heads the Salvation Army of Elizabeth City along with his wife.

Clewis said the agency's canteen, which is powered by a Ford F-450, is well-equipped for the task ahead. Besides a couple of microwave ovens, it features a grill, stove, refrigerator and a couple of sinks.

"It's pretty much stocked," Clewis said. "You just have to make sure you put everything in place and then tie it down."

Clewis said as soon as Sawyer, Perkins and Blackmon arrive in the flood zone, they should be able to feed at least 500 people for a couple of days. He anticipates the trio to serve a 10-day tour in the flood zone before returning to Elizabeth City.

Clewis noted that Salvation Army of Elizabeth City employees and volunteers underwent special training this summer on how to prepare for volunteering during a disaster.

Perkins has worked during past disasters in Elizabeth City. In fact, he and Blackmon served food to people who hunkered down during Hurricane Florence at the K.E. White Center last week. The Greater Albemarle American Red Cross operated an emergency shelter at the K.E. White Center before and during the initial days of the storm. Thursday marked the first time, however, that any of them had responded to a disaster or emergency some distance away.

Sawyer said he got a call early Thursday morning asking him to volunteer in the flood zone. Realizing “we were real fortunate here in Elizabeth City not to get the brunt of the hurricane,” it didn’t take him long to agree to go help those who were affected by the storm.

"People further south weren't that lucky. So, I figured I'd do what I could to help out," he said.