By Joy Crist, IslandFreePress.org
It has been nearly a week since Dorian made landfall on Cape Hatteras, and visitors are trickling in, while more and more businesses on Hatteras Island are opening their doors. But on a Thursday afternoon post-Dorian, the busiest spot on the island is arguably the Frisco Fire Station.
The station has been transformed over the past few days into an assistance center, a mobile spot to grab a meal, and an expansive market where essentials like cleaning supplies and totes are readily available.
There’s plenty of room for all of this activity at the sprawling fire station, and on this Thursday afternoon, there are a dozen things happening at once. In the main fire house, Dare County personnel and Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men are meeting one-on-one with residents to identify ways to help, like providing all-volunteer cleaning crews to clear out flooded homes. New vacationers and residents are stopping by to see how they can sign up to help families in need, while just outside, the Salvation Army mobile food truck is quietly getting ready to open its doors for the 5:00 p.m. meal.
One of the sections of the fire station has been transformed into the Really, Really Free Market – which was first launched after 2011’s Hurricane Irene – and donations are pouring in from businesses, residents and vacationers. A truck full of volunteers in red Lowes shirts pulls up to the entrance, while local market volunteers hand out kits from the Red Cross, Lowes, and Home Depot – which have the added bonus of having encouraging messages scrawled on them in black magic marker, like “Keep up hope.”
Debra Anne Scalia, one of the market’s organizers, says the outpouring of donations is absolutely amazing, but there are always gaps that need to be filled to help residents’ needs. (See below for a full list.)
“We definitely need more volunteers [for the market],” she says. “The more volunteers we have, the longer we can stay open, and we’d like to stay open over the weekend, if we can.”
Dave and Janet Dixon, owners of the Cape Hatteras Motel, have had a busy Thursday of volunteering that was only interrupted so that they could spend a little time continuing the clean-up efforts at their own Buxton-based business.
“We came for a few hours to volunteer this morning, went back to the motel, and then we came back for a few more hours, because it seemed like the right thing to do,” says Janet. “We were luckier than most, so we wanted to do what we can for other people who weren’t as [fortunate.]”
During their Thursday afternoon shift, they have been staying busy helping residents find supplies, and accepting donations from anyone who walks through the open doors – including visitors who have just arrived on the island, and who want to drop off donations before heading to their rental home.
“We’ve had stuff coming in and going out all day long, and it’s been really heartwarming,” says Janet. “Whole families come in, so the kids can volunteer and help out, too – Living here, you learn what it means to be a part of the community early.”
There are a dozen or so volunteers from HI Cert, the Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men, the Really, Really Free Market, and other organizations who are drifting in and out of the fire station, and coordinating with each other to determine where to direct the endless stream of people who keep stopping by.
With an outpouring of generosity in all forms – from volunteer labor to free supplies of every variety – it’s no wonder that the Frisco Fire Station remains the most active locales on the island, even as the local tourism industry slowly comes back to life.
Donations needed at the Free Market as of Thursday afternoon
Per a Thursday afternoon update from Debra Anne Scalia, the following supplies are especially needed at the Frisco Fire Station:
30-minute mold cleaner
Multipurpose sprayers, (such as ones used for weeds and landscaping)
Kitten and puppy formula
Small cages, like hermit crab cages
Volunteers are especially needed to staff the Free Market, and hopefully keep it going through the weekend.
Time slots are in two-hour increments, with two volunteers for each time slot. Please sign up for any time slots that fit your schedule. For more information on signing up as a volunteer, stop by the Frisco Fire Station, or see: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040c45abad2ba31-hatteras2
Currently, the estimated daily hours of the Free Market is Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and until 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.