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Local Salvation Army crew helps Hurricane Irene victims
Group travels to NC with mobile kitchen
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While Hurricane Irene continued to lash out against the east coast Saturday, a group with the Salvation Army in Gainesville prepared to offer assistance in North Carolina.

"Mainly what our role is is just feeding and hydration," said Lt. Matt Cunningham with the Salvation Army in Gainesville. "We go in with a mobile kitchen."

Cunningham said his crew was deployed to assist in providing food for people affected by the storm because there have been several power outages in the hurricane's path.

"First stage with disaster is to feed and place shelters until power comes back on and regular commerce can be established in that community," he said.

Although weaker than anticipated, Irene still brought winds topping 115 mph and waves that battered the shoreline in North Carolina. The center of the storm, which was estimated to be 500 miles wide, made landfall just after 7:30 a.m. as it passed over North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Sustained winds decreased to 85 mph, making it a Category 1, but still brought waves as high as 7 feet.
Cunningham and his crew left Saturday morning for North Carolina and are awaiting orders for the location they will respond to. Until those order were received, the crew was to remain in inland North Carolina.

"Either (this) morning or Monday, depending on the need and when they can establish that, they'll send us to that place," he said.

Depending on the amount of damage, Cunningham said his crew could be deployed for up to 14 days.

The Salvation Army not only provides food to storm victims, but also provides shelter and financial assistance, Cunningham said.

"We shelter, we provide long-term care afterward, help getting people back in their home afterward," he said. "Things like rent, utilities, Walmart gift cards to get stuff back in their home that's destroyed.

Cunningham said he wasn't sure what to expect because "it's kind of a hurry up and wait mentality."

Donations can be made to the Salvation Army Disaster Relief fund by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or online at

Associated Press contributed to this story.