Double Disaster Duty

Published 10:36 am Monday, September 25, 2017

AHOSKIE – Though the hurricanes are long gone, their impacts are still being felt in both Texas and Florida. Gordon Knox, a local Aulander resident, along with faith-based organization Disaster Relief USA (DRUSA) have been hard at work recently serving meals in both states affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Knox is a director of the local DRUSA team, which is run nationally by ministries of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. The organization has a kitchen located at 970 South Academy Street in Ahoskie to help coordinate with relief efforts.

The destructive force of a hurricane is not anything new to Knox. He said he got started in disaster recovery after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005. Knox went down to the devastated area with a food kitchen and estimates they served about 10,000 meals a day.

“I saw the devastation of all the things tore up, people’s homes,” Knox explained. “And I got the feeling I needed to go back. So from that time on, I took 23 trips down to Mississippi, [and] carried groups to rebuild homes.”

Soon enough, he started working with DRUSA, particularly to feed people after natural disasters tear up their homes and impact their lives.

Knox and DRUSA travelled with trailers of food to Webster, TX—a part of the Houston metro area—after Hurricane Harvey dumped a record-breaking amount of rain on the region, displacing thousands of people in the process. They stayed there about two weeks serving meals.

Knox explained that recovery efforts were not complete when they left, but a lot of good progress had been made. Knowing that Hurricane Irma was approaching Florida, they decided to head back east.

On September 19, the group arrived in Immokalee, FL with more food to serve hard-hit hurricane victims. He reported they served about 2,000 meals on the first day, but that number would jump up to at least 8,000 per day as they continued to work.

“From Naples down to Key West, it’s just totally destruction,” Knox said of the need to help the residents of Florida. “Fifty-two percent of cellphone towers are down, people can’t get back in their homes yet.”

Many people are still without power as well even though it’s been over a week since Hurricane Irma blew through the entire state.

According to IPHC’s website, DRUSA teams provide “a good, hearty meal” to victims in these challenging situations, meaning that their meals include an entrée, one or two sides, and a dessert.

DRUSA loads up trailers full of canned vegetables, fruits, and meats to transport to kitchen sites in disaster areas.

“Meats is one of the biggest items. We really get a lot of vegetables donated, but meat is what we have to buy most of the time, like hamburger, porkchops,” Knox explained.

All of the work DRUSA does is strictly volunteer-based.

As of right now, Knox said he doesn’t know how long they’ll stay in Florida. The group is expecting another 40-foot trailer of canned goods from Clinton, NC soon “which will be much needed when they get here,” he said.

There’s certainly still a lot of work left to do.