Returning the Favor: Local Rotary Clubs Assist Old Friends After Florence

‘That’s just what Rotarians do’

Swansboro Rotarians Jeff Hunt, Robin Comer, and Brandon Sewell (president); an unidentified volunteer from the high school, Don Horton, April Clark (Rotary district governor in Swansboro), Carla Bahn and Chris Culmer. CONTRIBUTED

Five days after Hurricane Irma rolled over the Lower and Middle Keys, a semi-truck overloaded with relief supplies was trailered to the Keys by seven members of the Swansboro Rotary Club.

“That’s what Rotarians are for,” texted Swansboro Rotarian Justin Cleve.

Earlier this week, the Upper Keys Rotary Club returned the favor, when Don Horton and Carla Bahn hauled a trailer full of supplies north to their club.

“Man, it was great. Everyone was so happy,” Cleve told the Weekly. “It was a feeling you couldn’t explain. We are getting supplies and they are going as fast as they come in. It was great to unite with him and complete the Rotary circle.”

Once Horton and Bahn arrived at the distribution center, they were impressed by its organization. Victims fill out a simple form when they arrive, describing their current water/electric situation and how many people and pets are in the home. Teenagers, unable to return to their school because it is being used as a shelter, grab all the necessary supplies and load them into the trunk of the car. Those receiving assistance never leave their car.

“What a great group of people. It’s all working and fishing people — just like us in the Keys,” said Don Horton.

Horton said it took about 15 hours to get from the Keys to Swansboro, but they were slowed coming home due to flooded roads and detours. With so much of the area still under water, the road to recovery is long and donations are still very much needed.

Tarps, fans, dehumidifiers, non-perishable foods like pasta and sauces, baby food, diapers and cleaning supplies top the list. Those wishing to support the survivors financially can send their checks to the Swansboro Rotary Foundation, P.O. Box 1851, Swansboro, NC 28584. Local folks may want to simply send their donations to the Upper Keys Rotary Club.

Horton and Bahn said the Rotarians have invited them back for an oyster festival in March.

“And we will be there,” he said.

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