The North Carolina Community Foundation is grateful to Vivian Howard for committing to support the NCCF Disaster Relief Fund in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. The news release announcing the commitment is below:
North Carolina chef and PBS star Vivian Howard is raising money to help those affected by Hurricane Florence.
Howard, host of the award-winning PBS show, “A Chef’s Life,” is selling a super soft gray short sleeve shirt emblazoned with the saying “Country as Cornbread” (pictured below) on her website benefit those affected by Hurricane Florence in Jones County. The category one hurricane dumped as much as 30 inches of water on eastern North Carolina. It caused extensive flooding in 27 counties, killed 39 people and left 80,000 people without power and sent 20,000 people to shelters at its peak, according to state officials. The region was still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, a category one storm that caused extensive flooding in the fall of 2016.
Each t-shirt costs $25 plus shipping. The shirts go on sale at noon Oct. 7 and will be available for order until midnight Oct. 31. Proceeds will be donated to the North Carolina Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund to benefit Jones County residents.
Howard started the fundraiser after hearing Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, CEO and president of the N.C. Community Foundation, speak at a Hurricane Florence fundraising event in Raleigh about the devastation in Jones County. The rural county of about 10,200 people is next to Lenoir County where Howard lives and owns two restaurants, Chef and the Farmer and Boiler Room .
“In the long, wet wake of Hurricane Florence I’ve gotten a thousand calls and notes of concern about the state of things in eastern North Carolina,” Vivian Howard said. “Lucky for me, my world is fine. Around me however, the landscape is decidedly different. Just 30 miles from here, Jones County, N.C. was badly battered. The national news didn't make it there as Jones County is rural with 20 percent of its residents living below the poverty line. It’s a place that can be easily overlooked. Many of these people didn’t have much before the flood and now they have nothing. Join me in raising money to help these families rebuild and begin again.”
“You may have heard the catch phrase ‘hurricane recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.’ It’s true. Florence will linger a long time in Wilmington, New Bern and Morehead City. But those places have a voice and a unified effort to rebuild. Jones County is way, way off the beaten path with no city to share its story. Please buy a shirt, share this link and make sure rural North Carolina is a part of the marathon.”
Jones County manager Franky Howard said up to 19 inches of rain fell on the county, causing creeks, ponds and the Trent River to rise. The county manager said flooding was so bad in Trenton, Pollocksville and elsewhere in the county that it was as much as five feet higher than records set by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Assessments, so far, indicate about 600 homes were damaged, affecting up to 15 percent of the population, he said. With limited rental properties and no hotels in the county, the county manager said residents are struggling with repairs to make their homes habitable or to find accommodations until their homes can be fixed.
Vivian Howard chose to direct the proceeds to Jones County via the N.C. Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund, where all funds raised go directly to nonprofit organizations serving needs in the impacted areas. No portion of the funds raised are used for the foundation’s administrative or operational expenses. The foundation’s local affiliate leaders direct the fund’s grants to mid- to long-term recovery efforts and unmet needs in the affected communities.
“We are already in these communities. We know their needs, challenges and opportunities,” said Tolle Whiteside with the N.C. Community Foundation. “We leverage that knowledge with our disaster relief fund. We are incredibly touched by Vivian’s caring for eastern North Carolina. We so appreciate her support.”