North Carolina was one of a handful of southern states to fall victim to Hurricane Matthew in November. The massive storm’s fierce winds ripped through coastal towns across the southeast leaving massive flooding, damage, injuries, and in some cases death.
Volunteer Army reservist Albert Yao spoke with Faithwire about the fallout from the storm and the efforts being taken to rebuild. Yao is a Michigan State planning coordinator with Team Rubicon. They have logged over 6,560 hours and helped 65 home owners following Hurricane Matthew.
“The power in rebuilding is making people feel better,” Yao explained.
— Alayne Aikens (@MsAikensWCHS) December 5, 2016
Many of those who came out to help with the cleanup and rebuilding efforts were volunteers and veterans.
First responders have performed 2,200 rescues by boat & 90 helicopter rescues in North Carolina during Hurricane Matthew. #ncpol
— Rep. John Bell (@JohnBellNC) December 3, 2016
During the first seven days on the ground in North Carolina, Yao explained that his role as an assessment team leader, gave him an opportunity to visit different neighborhoods. His responsibilities were to “find out if they needed any help, and determine the scope of work they wanted done.” Yao’s next job was even more hands on.
“I was a strike team leader,” he recalled, “leading teams of around five people to actually do the work, mostly removing ruined ductwork and insulation out of crawlspaces to help people rebuild their homes faster.”
The gallant efforts demonstrated by Yao and the team resembled previous storm cleanup and rebuilding efforts they had tackled.
“I don’t remember if it happened (here) specifically,” Yao told us, “but there have been numerous times when I’ve gone to a disaster area and the neighbors said they never previously talked to each other, and then something like this happens – we roll by, and ask them if they need help or if they if their neighbors need any, so it’s a way to build community in a sense, rallying together making feel better. I think it’s reassuring for folks to know that there are volunteers out there who care enough to take time away from their normal lives to help people clean up after the storms.”
“It has been a phenomenal experience watching volunteers within Team Rubicon step up to the plate and change people’s lives for the better, whether they are veterans, first responders, or civilians,” Yao told The Oakland Press shortly after leaving the project. “I’m thankful to serve in an organization that transcends political ideologies and socio-economic identities and brings people from all walks of life together to serve fellow Americans in their greatest time of need.”
Yao is one of 41,000 volunteer members of Team Rubicon.
Outside of the United States, the country of Haiti witnessed deep levels of devastation due to Hurricane Matthew. By the time to storm left its shores of over 400 people had been killed.
*Editor’s Note: Albert Yao is a childhood friend of Stephanie Parker who wrote this article.*