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Area residents, relief workers respond to Hurricane Matthew damage
Flood water surrounds the intersection of U.S. 70 and N.C. 258 in Kinston, N.C., on Sunday as the Neuse River remains flooded following Hurricane Matthew. State officials estimate the flooding has caused $1.5 billion in damage to 100,000 homes, businesses and government buildings. - photo by ZACH FRAILEY

Hurricane Matthew’s disastrous spin up the East Coast, particularly the Carolinas, has triggered a huge humanitarian response from Georgia relief workers, faith-based groups and others.

Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann said he and up to 100 other Hall County members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are awaiting word as to whether they’ll be dispatched to Georgia or states farther north.

Further instructions could come Thursday, but whatever the marching orders, members are ready to help, Wangemann said.

“If we had something like this happen to us here, we would want others to help us out,” he said.

Hurricane Matthew has been blamed for killing at least 43 people in the United States — 26 of them in North Carolina — with most deaths caused by flooding. In Haiti, at least 500 storm-related deaths were reported.

Flooding spawned by Hurricane Matthew has caused $1.5 billion in damage to 100,000 homes, businesses and government buildings in North Carolina, according to a state estimate.

With Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief workers fanned out around the Brunswick area and headed there, the group has “had little over 350 requests for help,” Director Stuart Lang said.

That’s “the largest concentrated hit area along the coast, from what I’ve seen,” he said.

“The good news is it’s all wind damage. We’ve had very little flooding in Georgia, praise the Lord.”

Sybil Davidson, spokeswoman for the United Methodist Church’s North Georgia Conference, which includes area churches, said the organization is preparing to send relief workers to North Carolina.

“Right now, North Carolina is in active disaster mode,” she said. “In South Carolina and South Georgia, we have dispatched chain saw teams. In South Georgia, we’ve also sent mission teams that can go in and help drag debris out of yards.”

The American Red Cross is continuing to meet emergency needs while helping families and communities recover, according to a news release.

“As we gradually transition operations this week to the Red Cross of Southeast and Coastal Georgia, I want to assure all those impacted by Hurricane Matthew that we are still there for them in their local communities,” said Chris Baker, director of the Hurricane Matthew relief effort in Georgia.

“The Red Cross will continue to work with partners and do everything we can to connect people with the resources they need for recovery.”

More than 1,800 Red Cross disaster workers and 40 emergency response vehicles from across the country have helped to operate and support 45 evacuation shelters.

More than 7,000 people have stayed in shelters.

“The Red Cross is grateful to the entire response community — government agencies, other nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, area businesses and others who came together to coordinate emergency relief efforts in Georgia,” Baker said.

“We’re seeing Georgia at its best, and it’s inspiring to be a part of it.”

Wangemann said helping others in their time of need is important and fulfilling work.

“God has commanded us to love thy neighbor as thyself,” he said.

“Some people would argue it’s hard to love somebody you don’t know, but … if you go down to those disaster areas and you get to know these people, it’s not a surprise at all that you grow to love (them).”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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