Garrett Perdue watched from the Triangle as the streets in his childhood home of New Bern filled with water.
He’s been glued to his television and cell phone, watching scenes from the eastern North Carolina town. He and his wife both have family there and have waited anxiously for his brother-in-law’s family to be rescued from a neighbor’s home as the waters from now-Tropical Storm Florence continued to rise.
Now Perdue, along with Zack Medford, Alex Lassiter and Andrew Payne, have joined together to form the Carolina Cavalry to collect supplies and help the people of New Bern and other hurricane-stricken communities.
“We have a lot of people locally who were extremely interested in how they could be helpful,” Perdue said. “We have lots of organizations who are poised to do relief work, but we saw an opportunity to focus on New Bern, specifically. And hopefully we can have a high impact with a single town, and if we are successful there we’d like to help other communities on the East Coast.”
Medford said they were inspired by the Cajun Navy, a volunteer group that formed after Hurricane Katrina and now rides into storms on boats to rescue people and animals trapped in their homes.
The Carolina Cavalry is focused on the helping in the aftermath of Florence and not in the active rescue of people, Perdue said, at least for now.
The model is “neighbor helping neighbor” and making sure the support gets in the hands of those who need it the most, Medford said. The group has been in contact with nonprofits and religious organizations in the town to find out what needs can be met and the first shipment of donated supplies could be coming from the group as early as Monday.
The Carolina Cavalry started as a Facebook group in the midst of the storm and in 48 hours reached almost 1,000 members. A GoFundMe page has a $250,000 goal. An Amazon wishlist of emergency supplies has also been set up, so people can ship items directly to the group. Medford said they plan to file paperwork to become an official nonprofit on Monday.
The group is asking for canned foods, snacks, bottled water, diapers, baby formula, wipes, underwear and socks, cleaning supplies, toilet paper and paper towels, pillows and bedding, box fans, utility knives and leather gloves and hand sanitizer. They are not accepting used clothes.
So far two Raleigh breweries, Lynnwood Brewing Concern and Crank Arm, are hosting donation supply drives, but Perdue said there are a number of collection spots in the works.
“The most important thing for people to know is just because the water goes down doesn’t mean there’s not a need,” Medford said. “Eastern North Carolina is going to be dealing with the impact of Florence for a long time, and we need to support them until they don’t need us anymore.”
Donation collection sites
▪ Lynnwood Brewing Concern, 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, Raleigh
▪ Crank Arm Brewing Company, 319 W. Davie St.., Raleigh
▪ 951 Aviation Parkway, Suite 900, Morrisville, NC, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday
This list will be updated as more locations are added
Other ways to help
Join the Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/carolinacavalry/
Donate to the GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/carolinacavalry
Purchase supplies that are directly delivered to Carolina Cavalry. Amazon wishlist: http://a.co/hXWvvx4
Host a donation collection site: www.carolinacavalry.org/drive/