The town has seen widespread support for victims of Hurricane Matthew in eastern portions of the state, with the Fire and Public Works sending representatives that way and the chamber of commerce making its own trip with supplies.
Fire Chief Tim Guffey said Wake County contacted him the day after the hurricane hit North Carolina on Oct. 8 and asked if he could help put together a “strike team” of units of the same type to send to parts of eastern North Carolina plagued by flooding.
Knightdale ended up sending an engine on Oct. 15 and partnering with Eastern Wake Fire Rescue Department to staff it, with Lt. Mark Guy and firefighters Brandon Murray and Evan Guinn went from Knightdale and Capt. William Boggs and firefighter Michael Miller participated from Eastern Wake. Filling out the strike team were the Wake Forest, Bay Leaf, Stony Hill, Fairview and Apex departments.
The unit was in White Lake in Bladen County for three days, functioning as the town’s fire department so that its employees could tend to their own personal needs in the aftermath of the storm. “They were essentially out of fire service other than our folks being there,” Guffey said. “We became White Lake Fire Department.”
In between responding to calls, the firefighters went door-to-door to check on residents’ welfare and handed out supplies. They slept at the White Lake Fire Department.
“We had to go to people through water 3 to 4 feet deep,” Murray said, “bring food and water. ... We saw people who were doing fine and people who hadn’t eaten or didn’t have water.” The firefighters had military trucks with large tires to help them get through the floodwaters.
Murray said if the need arose again, he would do it all over. “It’s what I got into this career to do, is to help people,” he said.
All expenses associated with the team and its equipment are reimbursable throughout the state’s declaration of emergency.
The Public Works Department sent a “knuckle boom” truck, a truck equipped with a crane that bends in the middle of the arm, to Rowland, a town of about 1,100 in Robeson County about 20 miles southwest of Lumberton, to assist cleaning up debris. John Stover and Darren Lloyd manned the truck.
The Knightdale Chamber of Commerce also played its part, loading about five vehicles with water, personal hygiene products and clothing to take to Lumberton and Fair Bluff, a town about 25 miles south of Lumberton, for a weekend trip late last month.
Among the volunteers who showed up to help load donations and escort them to Lumberton were Town Council members Pete Mangum and Randy Young. Former chamber board member Donna Ebron also helped organize the donation drive.
Chamber Executive Director Patrice Bayyan said she could feel a sense of hope and faith in the community from those in the Lumberton area the chamber’s efforts helped.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826