LAURINBURG − Taking relief supplies to one hurricane-devastated state while another storm was bearing down on your own state might be considered the definition of irony.
But that is exactly what Bo Frizzell and a group of volunteers from Scotland County did last week. They took four tractor trailer loads of water, toiletries, nonperishable food, and other much needed items to the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
The convoy left for Newton, Texas on Sept. 5 with Category 5 Hurricane Irma bearing down on the Caribbean and a distinct possibility that it could hit the East Coast.
“We left half a load in Scotland County because the truck wasn’t full, but we knew we might need it,” Frizzell said speaking of the chance that Irma was a threat.
The trip took 30 hours, and when the group reached the vicinity of Newton they were diverted to an ad hoc Forward Operating Base set up by the National Guard in Bridge City, Texas.
“The town we were supposed to go to directed us to a makeshift military base 100 miles south along the coast,” Frizzell said. “We couldn’t go any further because of all the water. The town was not flooded but the roads were.”
When the trucks arrived at the base the soldiers of the National Guard’s 36th Infantry Division, Arrowhead group unloaded the trucks. From there the supplies were taken by soldiers to small towns in the area.
“They took our stuff straight off the trucks and put it on Humvees and Duce and a Half trucks and shipped it straight out,” Frizzell said. “They said a lot of towns in there had not flooded but had been hit bad.
While the group was there, a helicopter carrying a three star general landed. The general wanted to know what civilians and civilian vehicles were doing on base, according to Frizzell.
When the general was told where the group was from and what they were doing he was amazed. And he was familiar with Scotland County.
“He knew about Camp McCall and the drop zone on 501,” Frizzell said. “He told us how much he appreciated it. He said it was hard to comprehend that this much stuff was donated from such a little county.”
As the last tractor trailer was being unloaded, the volunteers received confirmation that Irma would hit Florida and possibly south eastern North Carolina.
A decision was made to keep half of that load and bring it home. As much as they wanted to help Texas, Scotland County was the group’s priority.
Despite the fact that Irma became a non-issue for North Carolina, Frizzell believes the right decision was made.
Frizzell is assessing the situation with damage in Florida and trying to make a decision as to when he might be able to take the remainder of supplies to victims there.
“I have a couple of churches that will help me finish loading the trailers, and I’ll take them to Florida” he said.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169