While firefighters are used to leaping into action to help put out fires and rescue people during an emergency, 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.
The fire station projects funded by the Golden LEAF Disaster Recovery Grant Program helped rural areas such as Pamlico and Wayne counties build back after the devastation.
Olympia Volunteer Fire Department – Pamlico County
The Olympia Volunteer Fire Department’s fire station in Pamlico County was completely flooded out during Hurricane Florence. The Golden LEAF Board awarded the Department $418,711 through the Disaster Recovery Grant Program to construct a new station on higher elevation.
On Saturday, March 6, 2021, the Olympia Volunteer Fire Department held a ribbon cutting ceremony at its new station. Kasey Ginsberg, Golden LEAF Director of Programs – Disaster Recovery, and Brynn Fann, Golden LEAF Program Officer, attended the event.
“Golden LEAF provided the majority of our construction costs for the building of the new fire station,” said Dennis Holton, Olympia Volunteer Fire Department Board member. “In 2012, Weyerhaeuser gave us 1.4 acres of land to build on. The new station is only about a half mile from the old station and on the same road.”
As soon as the water went away, the firefighters cut out the water-soaked drywall so mold would not move up the wall. The facility was constructed in 1973, and the department had outgrown the facility, therefore the department opted to seek disaster recovery resources for relocation rather than repairing the aged building located in a flood-prone area.
The new fire station took the support of many coming together, said Holton, including the Golden LEAF Foundation, the Bates Foundation, the N.C. Department of Insurance, and local contributors.
Seven Springs Community Volunteer Fire Department – Wayne County
Seven Springs Community Volunteer Fire Department was flooded during Hurricane Matthew. The Golden LEAF Board awarded $1,741,539.49 in Disaster Recovery Grant Program funds to replace the station on elevated land outside of the floodplain. Proceeds from the purchase of the former station by the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program were used towards the project.
“During the flooding that was experienced, the fire department had to relocate its apparatuses to a higher area safe from the high water,” said Staten Rogers, former president of the Seven Springs Community Volunteer Fire Department. “While our old station was in disarray, we had to hold our meetings at local churches and our members were unable to gather at the station for training or to prepare for calls.”
The Seven Springs Fire Department received support and assistance from Wayne County Management and the Wayne County Development Alliance while pursuing and working through the Golden LEAF Disaster Recovery Grant, said Rogers.
“The grant allowed us to construct a new station that not only will better serve our community but improve our ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating and house the equipment necessary to maintain that rating,” said Rogers.
These are just two examples of fire stations that were flooded during hurricanes that affected North Carolina in the past five years. Click the links below to learn about more fire stations that received disaster recovery funding.