Blog post written by Dorene Palermo.

A group of 11 very hearty souls traveled down east on Friday, December 16, for our first trip to help the people there recover from Hurricane Matthew. It was 22 degrees when we assembled at 7am in the WPC parking lot, so we didn’t waste much time standing around talking. Ninety minutes later we found ourselves in the hallway at St. James United Methodist Church in Tarboro awaiting our work instructions.

We had been told that we’d be pulling up floors, so we were a bit surprised to discover that we also had the opportunity to drag insulation out from under houses. All of us took a step backward when the request for the insulation work came, but at last some very generous souls agreed to do the dirty deed. We divided into two groups, heading into quite different directions. It was a measure of our inexperience (and the cold!) that we did not take the time to split the tools and equipment for the two groups. Next time we will know better!

At one site, the hazmat suits were used to actually protect the user from the insulation; at the other site, hazmat suits were used to stay clean and a little warmer… perhaps a not-so-important use of the gear, but appreciated anyway. The Insulation and Floors Group (Bill Burig, Sally Goettel from Cary Pres, Eileen McAvoy, Jules Taylor, and Pru & Richard Meyer), was very productive and successful in their tasks. We all give kudos to the three souls who braved the dark and cramped crawlspace to drag out the old insulation. That was not a pretty sight.

The Floor and Staples Group (Dottie Bartholomay, Marge Enberg, JoAnn Lytle-Olson, and Chick & Dorene Palermo) was somewhat less so, pulling out staples from floor joists and studs – a necessary but not very glamorous task – while Chick and a local volunteer tried to remove more flooring. Bill Burig stayed overnight and returned the next day to finish the job of removing the flooring after they got some better tools for the work.

Both groups ended the day early because of the cold (it was still only 33 degrees at 3pm) and headed home. We did a little, learned a lot, and want to do more next time. Everything thing we did – big and little – was necessary to help the people of Tarboro start the long road to recovery. Many thanks to this terrific first team!

We will take at least four teams a month, starting in January.