Community Foundation event honors Dorian relief

By on February 21, 2020

Hyde County Commissioner Tom Pahl offers the keynote address about Ocracoke’s recovery after Hurricane Dorian. (Photo by Daniel Pullen Photography)

For the large and animated crowd gathered at Jennette’s Pier on Feb. 20 for the Outer Banks Community Foundation’s annual meeting, there were awards, announcements, standing ovations and a tasty lunch.

But given a year-defining event such as the destruction brought to Hatteras, and especially  Ocracoke, by Hurricane Dorian last September, the spirit of the gathering was perhaps best summed up by keynote speaker, Hyde County Commissioner and Ocracoke resident Tom Pahl who described the “storm of generosity” that helped rescue his community as soon as Mother Nature’s storm had done its worst. “I come bearing a mission of gratitude,” Pahl told the assemblage, “from everyone who has benefitted so greatly” from the efforts of the Outer Banks Community Foundation.

“Resilience,” he added, “springs up from vulnerability.”

Within five days of Dorian’s impact, the Outer Banks Community Foundation had already raised $500,000 for its Dare County Disaster Relief Fund and new Ocracoke Disaster Relief Fund. All totaled, the foundation has raised $1.5 million for the two funds combined, which, according to foundation president Scott Brown, came from more than 6,000 donors — 85% of whom live in zip codes outside the Outer Banks.

According to Community Foundation Executive Director Lorelei Costa, nearly $1.4 million of that money has been sent and earmarked to individuals, families and other groups to handle a range of housing needs created in Dare County and Ocracoke by the storm.

On Ocracoke, Pahl said at the meeting, more than 400 people have been displaced by Dorian and “today, most of those four hundred have still not returned to their homes.” (At one point in the proceedings, Costa quipped that, “Dorian is a four-letter word, by the way.”)

The foundation also handed out two special Dorian-related Champion Awards. One went to TowneBank executive Taylor Sugg and his team for stepping up to the plate at the very outset with a $150,000 donation to the Disaster Relief Fund — a gift that was seen as crucial to building early momentum for those relief efforts.

The second Champion Award was given to former Nags Head Mayor Bob Muller for his ongoing efforts, in virtually every capacity, to aid the Community Foundation — including his volunteer work for the organization in the hours after the storm struck.

At the end of the meeting, Costa announced a new Vision 2020 grant that has been funded by anonymous $105,000 contribution to the foundation. Explaining that the money would either be awarded as one $100,000 grant or two $50,000 grants, Costa said she was looking for big ideas to solve big problems.

“The catch to this gift is there’s no catch,” she said, adding that she hoped the funds will “really move the needle on a big hairy, gnarly community problem.”  

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