Big need for volunteers to help Hurricane Matthew victims in Virginia Beach

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Hurricane Matthew relief

A volunteer responds to the call to help victims of Hurricane Matthew in Virginia Beach. (Photo courtesy of Operation Blessing International Facebook)

More than a week after Hurricane Matthew, there aren’t enough volunteers.

About 200 Virginia Beach properties have been damaged by flooding and need to be muck and gutted, a process that includes ripping up flooring and padding. It can also involve removing ruined furniture, unattached furnishings and drywall, according to the city’s website. It’s a labor-intensive undertaking, and the city has put out a call for help, with efforts being coordinated in part by Operation Blessing International, a Virginia Beach-based non-profit humanitarian relief organization.

“The biggest need we have right now is volunteers,” Virginia Beach Media and Communications Manager Marc Davis said in an interview. “They have some, but they don’t have enough.”

But mucking and gutting isn’t just tearing up damaged property.

“Volunteers also sort through personal belongings,” said Operation Blessing’s Vice President of U.S. Disaster Relief and Programs Jody Gettys. “It’s a painful process of seeing what isn’t salvageable and moving those items to the curb.”

Ten volunteers reported to Operation Blessing in Virginia Beach on Monday, Oct. 17, a number Gettys said is far too low; more volunteers did show up over the weekend, though she didn’t know the precise figures.

It takes four to eight volunteers to muck and gut a property, a process that can take one to two days, according to Gettys.

People interested in volunteering for Operation Blessing can call 757-284-9183 or visit the CBN Corporate Support Building at 977 Centerville Turnpike, Monday through Saturday. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and orientation is at 8:30 a.m. Volunteers are asked to wear hard-sole shoes and long pants.

Another hurricane damage relief team to consider is Team Rubicon, which has about 25 members to muck and gut Hampton Roads properties. They meet at the Calvary Baptist Church parking lot, 4832 Haygood Rd., no later than 7:45 a.m. The organization is looking for people with experience in the military or as a first responder.

Hurricane victims can seek help at a city-sponsored community recovery center at Bow Creek Community Recreation Center, 3427 Club House Rd. The center will be open Tuesday, Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center opened on Friday.

“As of this morning, over 400 people came to the center for help,” said Davis. “Some need clothing, some need food, some need help mucking and gutting and some need vouchers to stay at hotels.”

Residents whose property has been damaged by the hurricane can call the city’s 311 line at 757-385-3111.

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