- Associated Press - Sunday, November 27, 2016

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - The Parkersburg Red Cross on Nov. 18 welcomed home two brothers who have been aiding with a massive disaster relief effort in North Carolina.

Hurricane Matthew struck Oct. 8, causing widespread wind damage and flooding throughout the southern part of the country.

One of the hardest hit areas was Lumberton, North Carolina, where an estimated 170 families were displaced by storm damage. More than 4,000 people throughout North Carolina were displaced by the storm.

Earlier this month, the Robeson County Fairgrounds shelter in Lumberton was the last of the Red Cross shelters to close. Brothers Charles Clegg, of Parkersburg, and David Clegg, of Glenville, worked there for two weeks as Red Cross volunteers, helping families in the shelter to find more permanent housing.

“There were supposed to be about 50 families, but when we got there it was more like 75 families, and we were one of just three shelters operating in that area,” Charles said. “We were trying to find them a place, working with them to get their utilities on. The idea is to get you out of the shelter and started rebuilding your life.”

Charles said there is still widespread damage in North Carolina.

“There are piles of debris on the road. In a lot of areas it’s still just one lane,” he said. “You still have trees on houses. Roofs torn off. Tarps over buildings.”

Charles said residents were grateful for the Red Cross.

“When people are asking you to donate money or cleaning supplies, you have no idea how much that means to people in those kinds of situations. We had trucks of cleaning supplies and clothes brought in. Those were like goldmines to people who’d lost everything,” he said. “I saw people cry who’d just gotten $50, just because they had money in their pocket again.”

Charles said he and his brother worked with state and national agencies, such as FEMA and Catholic Charities, to get aid to as many people as possible in the final days of the shelter being open.

“That’s what makes it worthwhile, to get everybody working together to get those clients back into their own homes,” he said. “Being a part of the Red Cross is its own reward.”

Sharon Kesselring, executive director of the American Red Cross of Northwest West Virginia, said the brothers were able to work on a scale not often seen in the Mid-Ohio Valley, and that experience will now be used to teach local volunteers how to better prepare for and deal with large disasters.

“They’ve learned some skills that will now help us,” she said. “They’ll be passing that information along to other volunteers in our area.”

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Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.), https://www.newsandsentinel.com

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