By Holly Desrosier
(This is Part II in a series of stories focusing on the impact Hurricane Florence has had on Craven Community College’s faculty, staff, students and the community.)
Craven Community College (Craven CC) and the New Bern community are actively continuing with recovery efforts after Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc across the state just over one month ago. In the aftermath of such a devastating storm, there has been a tremendous outpouring of care and compassion from friends, families, neighbors and coworkers.
According to a preliminary report from the office of Gov. Roy Cooper entitled “Hurricane Florence Recovery Recommendations,” the total cost in damages across North Carolina is expected to be nearly $13 billion. This includes over 680 public k-12 schools, 28 community colleges and four UNC institutions, each of which are located within the 28 FEMA-designated disaster counties in North Carolina affected by Hurricane Florence. Craven County and Craven CC are among those listed. The initial economic impact across education sectors is estimated at $297.3 million, with community colleges accounting for about $8.7 million.
On a more personal level, initial estimates for housing assistance and recovery for the state totals $3.2 billion. This number is expected to change as FEMA continues conducting damage assessments.
“People have been displaced, businesses have been ruined, farms have been flooded,” said Cooper. “But from this devastation, we must seize the opportunity to rebuild stronger and smarter.”
Just like those impacted across the state, many local residents are in need of basic essentials that most people take for granted, ranging from personal hygiene items and clothing to sustenance and a roof over their head. A vast number of Craven CC students, faculty and staff were among those affected. To help relieve this burden, the college’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society students organized a food pantry and supply closet for the Craven CC family in Orringer Hall. Hurricane relief items such as food, water, personal items, clothing and cleaning supplies will be available for weekly distribution to employees and students with a current Craven CC ID. Donations are welcome and greatly appreciated.
More than 30 Craven CC faculty and staff members lost vehicles and houses due to the inundation of floodwaters and high winds. As a result, the Craven CC Foundation recently took initiative and announced the availability of relief grants to directly aid faculty and staff in need.
“It became evident very quickly that many in our Craven CC family were significantly impacted by Hurricane Florence,” said Tanya Roberts, Foundation operations coordinator. “In spite of this, and true to form, they have all continued to be here for the college. The Foundation wanted to show all Craven staff and faculty that we are one and we are here to help.”
The assistance is in the form of a $500 cash grant and is available to full-time and permanent part-time employees of the college who have sustained $10,000 or more in uninsured or non-reimbursable hurricane-related expenses. Applications may be submitted online and will be reviewed by a team of Foundation directors.
The Foundation is also assisting students in need of books, equipment and other supplies by replacing anything lost in the storm in an effort to avoid more disruptions this semester.
“As an educational institution, our primary focus is our students,” said Charles Wethington, executive director of institutional advancement. “So naturally, we’re trying to ensure that any Craven CC student displaced by the hurricane has everything they need to continue their education. We hope to be a sense of comfort and stability in a time of loss and uncertainty.”
The Foundation’s annual campus and community fundraising campaigns were in full swing when Florence hit, and gifts and pledges may now be contributed specifically for disaster relief. Those designated funds will offer even more assistance to the Craven CC family.
“Our Craven CC community has been an amazing support for each other throughout the initial phases of storm recovery,” said Roberts. “The Foundation will continue to provide the best support possible to our students, staff and faculty.”
As always, Craven CC appreciates everyone’s support. The college will continue to provide financial, academic and emotional support to make sure the Craven CC family and community receive the highest quality educational and workplace experience.
“This challenging time has once again revealed Craven County’s extraordinary resilience and strength—our college has been a leader in exemplifying this proud community characteristic,” said Ray Staats, Craven CC president. “My sincere thanks to all of you who have rallied around those needing help the most.”