After Hurricane Matthew, NJ helps with water rescues, shelters in the South
New Jerseyans in the deep South are helping with recovery efforts following Hurricane Matthew as it moves away from the coastline.
Three-quarters of a million people in South Carolina were left without electricity, and 250,000 were in the dark in coastal Georgia. About 1 million people in Florida lost power and towns along the coast faced heavy rain and flooding. Approximately 18 inches of rain fell in Wilmington, 14 inches in Fayetteville and 8 inches in Raleigh.
Task Force 1 from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management started Saturday in South Carolina and sent to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. En route they were diverted to Fayetteville and arrived early Sunday to assist with water rescues. In the Fayetteville area alone on Saturday, rescue crews saved nearly 600 people from the rapidly rising floodwaters, officials said.
They also helped a family trapped in a car trying to cross a flooded highway with moving waters on State Highway 95 by making a slow pass and pulling the family out of their car. They took the family to a nearby shelter.
Jim Eden, a retired New Jersey State Police officer from Margate, was managing a shelter in Waycross, Georgia where 120 had sought refuge from their coastal homes. after getting a call Thursday that he was needed. He was on a plane to Atlanta on Friday morning and then traveled six hours through wind and rain and went right to work relieving staff who had been in the shelter from two days.
"Our purpose is to make sure everyone is comfortable and has what they need," Eden said, but the biggest concern of those in the gym (at Waycross Middle School, where a shelter was established) is conditions around their home.
While the sounds of children playing in one are of the gym can he heard, Eden said "adults are very quiet and somber" anxiously awaiting word on when they can head home.
Eden told New Jersey 101.5 he never forgot the "serve and protect" mission as a State Police officer for 30 years which motivated him to volunteer with the Red Cross right after Sandy. This is is first out-of-state disaster assignment.
"I was with them volunteering until last September when I was hired as the Disaster Program Specialist for Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties. It's something I like to do. It's very satisfying and very rewarding to help out people in their time of need," Eden said.
Eden said his wife serves on the committees of several charitable organizations and his 9-year-old twin boys are well aware of Eden's work when he leaves sometimes goes out late at night. "During their birthdays they get lots of gifts but the last couple of years when they got cash the kids donated it to certain charities in our area with no qualms about it. We're so proud of them," Eden said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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