Gator News Student Life

ECHS Students Lend Hand in Hurricane Relief

Clockwise from top left: Foth, Deal, Junious, Smith, Everette, Brown and Campbell, center.



When Hurricane Florence struck North Carolina last month, it forced a 13-day cancellation of school for students at East Columbus High School. For several of those students, most without electricity or running water in their homes, the storm provided opportunities for service to their respective communities. Gators East writers interviewed several of those students.

Demarkus Brown, 17, is a senior who rolled up his sleeves and revealed himself as a volunteer. Brown, who lives in East Arcadia in Bladen County, said the hurricane did terrific damage to his community.

“A tree fell on my grandmother’s house while she was sleeping,” he said. “Many cars were flooded and I was trapped in my house for two days due to the flooding.” Brown began helping others once he got outside of his home.

He helped an elderly woman who had wrecked in flooding water on U.S 74/76. He cleaned yards and placed tarps on neighbors’ houses. He helped organize a food drive his grandmother hosted for East Arcadia and the surrounding communities.

“I always help others,” Brown said. “Cause you never know when you’ll need help. I’m blessed.  I will help anyone at any given time or place if a person or my community needs me.” (Rianna Graham)

Sophomore Alanna Deal, 15, lives in Whiteville. When Florence struck, many people’s homes were flooded and destroyed. Deal said that since she and her family were not affected by the storm, they  decided to help out the community.

The Deals picked up supplies from the Columbus County Airport and delivered them to areas including Whiteville, Kelly, Hallsboro and Riegelwood.

Deal said they also helped rescue dogs, people, and “even a goat.”

As Deal helped others, it became clear to that the damage to her community and others “was shocking.”

Deal helped throughout the two weeks after Florence. “I learned that I am very blessed.” Deal said she plans to help with future recovery efforts. (Maliyah Russ)

Sophomore Monzelle Campbell, 15, lives at Lake Waccamaw. During the storm, a tree fell on Campbell’s home. There were also family members in the home who were sick.

“It was hard, but we made it,” he said.

After Florence, Campbell said he helped distribute supplies to those in need. He helped repair damage to his and others’ homes.

Campbell said he learned a lot from the hurricane, including not taking life or his family for granted.

He said he wishes to continue helping others and is interested in joining some type of rescue team when he gets older. (Shawnae Robertson)

Sixteen-year-old Matthew Everette helped others after the hurricane despite his own house suffering damage. The junior said “part of the foundation of our house got washed out from the flooding in our yard.”

After the hurricane, Everette helped others by “moving everything out of peoples’ houses and helping clean their yards.” He mostly helped people around the Lake Waccamaw community whose houses were flooded.

Everette said he believes “It’s nice how people can come together when others need help.”

He added that “If anybody were to need help in the future, I’d help them.” (Raini Patrick)

Senior Tayvien Smith said that he stayed behind after his family evacuated their Sandy Field home. The 17-year-old Smith did not want to leave.

Smith spend his time after Florence as part of a cleanup crew, working primarily at areas along N.C. 11. (Arianna Daniels)

Sophomore John “JT” Junious, 15, said he was not severely affected by Hurricane Florence.

Junious spent one of his days handing out water at Chadbourn Fire Department.

He said Hurricane Florence made a big impact on many people’s lives.

“I am blessed to not have much damage to my home, but you should never take anything for granted because your never know when you could lose everything” he said, adding that he would gladly help in the future with recovery efforts.

“You never know when you would need the help from others,” he said.  (Autumn Johnson)

Freshman Haley Foth volunteered for the fire department in Riegelwood, dispensing water and helping check on houses and the people in her community.

“It was depressing,” she said. “You really see that we need to help each other.”

She helped for four days from working from 6:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. each day.

“My back porch floated away” she said, when the creek behind her house flooded her yard and part of her house.

“Some of the living room, my room and the laundry room were flooded.”

Her work with the fire department has made her want to join the department. (Samantha Howell)