Over the weekend, 100 volunteers with the Raleigh Dream Center headed to Wilmington and Brunswick County to clean up after Florence.
The mission was for volunteer Sara Smith-Silva.
She prepared herself for the worst as she drove into the communities devastated by Hurricane Florence. She lived most of her life in Brunswick County and Wilmington. She could only watch as images circulated of water rising, until even that became too painful.
“I had to stop watching the news. I really did,” Smith-Silva explained. “The more I saw, it made it very realistic to me of what they were going through and not knowing if your family or friends are okay. That was the hardest part.”
Her family and friends weren’t hurt, but some lost their homes and belongings. When Smith-Silva learned the Raleigh Dream Center was sending volunteers to the coast, she signed up.
“My heart was just so happy,” she said. “The first thing I said was, ‘What do I need to do.'”
Water still covered some streets in Brunswick County/ Ruined furniture, appliances, and insulation lined others. Volunteers cleaned up what they could for homeowners, including Smith-Silva’s mom.
“She had four trees fall down — huge trees. One nicked her house, so her whole downstairs is ripped out completely,” her daughter said.
They also handed out meals, supplies, and water.
“They were just so appreciative,” Smith-Silva said of the residents.
After seeing the worst of nature, volunteers were thankful to see the best of people.
“It gives you hope, you know, to see the good In everybody,” Smith-Silva said. “It was heartwarming.”