While the firefighters in Columbus County were salvaging what they could from their fire station during Hurricane Matthew, they also evacuated more than 450 people from their homes. The hurricane flooded the Fair Bluff Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Inc., but $500,392 in Disaster Recovery Grant Program funding awarded by the Golden LEAF Board filled a gap to help rebuild the facility on higher ground, outside of the floodplain. The department used FEMA Public Assistance and insurance proceeds toward construction as well.
“Firefighters are a family, and we literally built the fire station that flooded,” said Ken Elliott, Assistant Fire Chief at Fair Bluff Fire.
Elliott said losing the station was like losing a home for many of the firefighters.
“There were no fatalities and no injuries,” said Elliot. “Still, Fair Bluff has been hurt by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence to this day, but Fair Bluff will come back. It’s not a question of will it, but how big the comeback will be.”
While Fair Bluff was without a fire station, the department received community and state support.
“We had support from local, state and national leaders,” said Elliot. “We were able to work out of the National Guard Armory, while we were building the new station. The National Guard bent over backwards to help us out. Our local contractor did so much above and beyond work for us, as well.”
The Fair Bluff firefighters are happy to have a new place to call home.
“Golden LEAF has been phenomenal for us,” said Elliot. “I have never worked on a project this big.”
About the Disaster Recovery Grant Program
Many North Carolina firefighters found themselves in need of aid when their own stations and homes were being flooded during Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. After helping others survive the disaster, these departments found relief from the Golden LEAF Disaster Recovery Grant Program.
The State of North Carolina provided funds to the Golden LEAF Foundation to make grants to governmental entities and 501(c)(3) nonprofits to repair or replace infrastructure and equipment damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, Michael, and Dorian. Golden LEAF Disaster Recovery Grant Program funds have supported 11 fire station projects totaling nearly $10 million.