Red Cross helping N.C. storm victims
By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — For about two weeks, Rowan native Monica Bruns has been in Bertie County, working in a town she had never been to before. She’s volunteering with the Red Cross, providing relief to families in Colerain who were displaced by tornadoes.
About a dozen people died from the storms in the area not far from the coast.
“The storms have displaced people from their homes and I’ve seen homes leveled to the ground,” Bruns said.
She arrived in Colerain April 19 and has seen first-hand the devastation.
“It makes you want to cry,” Bruns said. “Sit down and be grateful and thankful for what you have because in a split second it can all be taken away.”
This is her first deployment with the Hanford Dole Chapter of the American Red Cross. Bruns has been a volunteer with the Rowan chapter less than a year.
Colerain was one of the hardest hit areas, she said.
Tornadoes ripped through the town April 16.
Bruns was sent as a service associate to help in the emergency shelter and once the shelter was no longer needed, she moved to helping displaced residents.
“I work with other members of the Red Cross to offer assistance and referrals to other agencies,” she said.
The residents feel displaced. They are still in shock, Bruns said.
“That’s what the Red Cross is here to do, reassure them someone is here to help them,” she said.
The Red Cross is providing short-term recovery to meet the residents’ immediate needs.
Bruns said she’s been working to help so many she hasn’t had time to process it all.
“It’s gut-wrenching. You can see homes on one side completely leveled to the ground and on the other side homes missing a few shingles, that’s it,” she said.
Bruns said she is happy to help people in their time of need.
A retired Army officer who volunteered with Bruns commended her work ethic in a letter written to the Hanford Dole chapter of the Red Cross.
He noted how she volunteered to work extra shifts even though she’d already worked a 12-hour shift.
Bruns will head back to Rowan County on Tuesday.
Most Red Cross volunteers are working 10 to 13 hour days.
Marcus Lineberger is another one of those volunteers. The Salisbury resident has been a disaster services volunteer for six years. He began this deployment Monday in Raleigh and is now in Smithfield.
He’s been providing operation support for the Red Cross staff.
“They give me a purchasing card and I buy things in support of the operations,” he said.
Lineberger not only buys supplies for displaced residents but also first aid supplies for Red Cross workers.
He’s gone to Sam’s Club three times a day, a 60-mile round trip.
“I haven’t seen a whole lot of damage in Smithfield,” he said.
But near Wake Forest, he said, there’s been a lot of damage to homes.
“I’ve seen a lot of blue tarps on roof tops. There’s been a couple of different trailer parks hit hard,” Lineberger said.
Red Cross disaster teams worked around the clock in the affected areas, providing people with shelter, meals, emotional support and supplies to help with clean-up efforts, a statement said.
In North Carolina, nearly 450 people have stayed in a Red Cross shelter. The Red Cross has had nearly 550 volunteers respond to North Carolina to help those affected by the storms, including Bruns and Lineberger.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.
Those who want to help the people affected by these disasters, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief.
A gift will enable the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other disaster assistance.
To make a donation, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
Contributions may also be sent to P.O. Box 57066, Charlotte, NC 28206 or the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.