Up & Coming Weekly

September 17, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

Issue link: http://www.epageflip.net/i/1168827

Contents of this Issue


Page 23 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM SEPTEMBER 18-24, 2019 UCW 23 Hope Mills News & Views NEWS Hope Mills mats program seeks more volunteers by EARL VAUGHAN JR. The Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department is in the third year of a program to make sleeping mats for the homeless from plastic bags. Anne Evanco, a program specialist for the Parks and Recreation Department, said the program has stockpiled plenty of raw material for the work, but it needs more helping hands to create the mats. The program started at the former senior center on Davis Street but has relocated to the Parks and Recreation building on Rockfish Road. Evanco estimates that the volunteers in the program have churned out roughly 300 mats since they started. They collect plastic bags from various local busi- nesses and then bring them to the recreation center. There they are flattened, folded and cut into a mate- rial they call plarn, which means plastic yarn. Once the plarn has been made, it can be used in a variety of ways to create the sleeping mats. Evanco said they can be knitted, crocheted or weaved, depending on the preference of the person making the mat. She added it's a simple process to learn and anyone can do it with minimal training. When people come out to take part in the pro- gram for the first time, Evanco said they are usually assigned to the process of making the plarn. "We want them to learn each step,'' she said. "After you learn how to process the bags and make the plarn, it doesn't take long to learn the weaving method.'' The process of making a mat can take from 10 to 30 hours Evanco said. A lot of that depends on the indi- vidual worker and how nimble their hands are. Some of the crocheted mats can take as long as 60 hours. The mat makers convene at the recreation center three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon until 4 p.m. each day. While the program was originally intended for senior citizens, Evanco said people of all ages are now welcome to take part. The mat-making room is somewhat crowded on Wednesday and Friday, Evanco said, but they could use some more volunteers who would like to work on mats on Mondays. The mat makers aren't responsible for getting the mats into the hands of the homeless. The recreation center staff works with other organizations, especially Fayetteville Urban Ministry, to drop off the mats and have them put directly into the hands of the homeless. Evanco said she doesn't have an idea on how long a mat will actually last, saying it varies from person to person and the type of surface they might be sleeping on, with mats used on grass surfaces standing up bet- ter than those used on concrete. Anyone interested in learning how to make the mats should just show up at one of the Monday, Wednesday or Friday sessions. "The people in this program are very welcoming,'' Evanco said. "We'll bring that person in and put them to work, show them the process. "It's great to see someone who has never done any- thing like this before. There's something for everyone in this program.'' Paula Ray, center, a Hope Mills volunteer, delivers mats to staff at the Veterans Administration Stand Down Center last August Hurricane preparedness a constant responsibility by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Most people begin to worry about hurricanes when the weather reports grow ominous as a major storm advances on the place that they live. But emergency person- nel like Hank Harris, dep- uty chief of the Cotton Fire Department in Hope Mills, have to remain focused on storms throughout hurricane season — and not just ones that threaten our local com- munities. Cotton is part of a larger group known as Urban Search and Rescue Teams. They work together with the Fayetteville Fire and Police Departments and Cumberland County Emergency Medical Services. "There are seven teams like it across the state,'' Harris said. "Most of them are in big municipali- ties. They've got equipment to shore up structur- ally collapsed buildings. We've got swift-water rescue stuff. They are self-sustainable for 72 hours.'' In past storms, local rescue personnel have been involved with sending swift-water rescue teams to storm-stricken areas. During Hurricane Dorian, the Fayetteville- area team sent a forklift to the Outer Banks to load sup- plies at hurricane-ravaged Ocracoke Island. Harris said the Fayetteville area team also has tents available that can be used to house team members when they are sent elsewhere to serve, or they can be sent to disaster areas to provide an emergency hospital or shelter to feed people displaced from their homes. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and southeast Texas, causing $125 billion in damage, mostly from flooding. Harris said the team from the Fayetteville area sent 90 people to Texas to help with relief during that storm. "We go everywhere,'' he said. With the growing frequency of storms every fall in the United States, Harris said it's a good idea for people to not wait to hear bad news on the weather and maintain a basic level of readi- ness whenever hurricane season arrives in the Southeast. "It's always good to have a hurricane kit,'' Harris said. You can visit ReadyNC.org on the internet or download the ReadyNC app to your smartphone and get a lot of valuable information there, Harris added. "It gives you a list of materials you need to keep on hand,'' he said. "You know what happens to all the grocery stores. They start emptying the shelves. You can be a little bit ahead of the game by having some of that stuff already in place.'' Some basics to have on hand include bandag- ing material, water both to drink and to clean wounds with and enough food to sustain life for everyone in the home for several days. Harris said it's also a good idea to be aware of what rescue personnel with the fire department can and can't do when a storm hits. Harris said his agency normally won't respond to situations like a tree falling on a house and simply causing physical damage to the building. They will come out for emergencies like people trapped in a home or car, for rising water and, in some cases, for downed power lines. They try to refer power line situations to the appropriate power company. "It keeps us from stretching our resources so thin,'' he said, "in times when multiple calls might be coming in." Harris said the safety of rescue personnel also has to be factored in. "When the wind gets up, it's not safe for us to respond,'' he said. "If the winds are too high for us to respond and something happens to us, we're not helping anybody.'' Deputy Chief Hank Harris

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Up & Coming Weekly - September 17, 2019