We are Your Neighbor

GWTA DirectorMy initial intention this month was to let everyone know about upcoming events that GWTA has lined up. During the week of November 7 through November 12, all veterans and active duty military men and women may ride the urban buses for free. Show a military ID or DD-214 with photo ID prior to boarding the bus. GWTA will also have a vehicle in the Veterans Day parade in Goldsboro on November 11.

However, the effects of Hurricane Matthew on Goldsboro, Wayne County, and a large portion of Eastern North Carolina have changed the focus of this month’s article. Everyone is aware of the devastation and upheaval caused by the storm. Unknown to but a few is the untiring effort provided by GWTA staff and drivers, Wayne County, City of Goldsboro, NCDOT and many other agency employees to ensure the safety and well-being of the community.

Immediately after the storm began on October 8, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was put into action and two shelters in Goldsboro and one in Mount Olive were opened. GWTA drivers shuttled displaced residents to the shelters. Some of the drivers did not know the condition of their own homes. That evening, conditions were too hazardous for them to leave and many were forced to spend the night on the floor of the transfer center or in a vehicle.

As conditions worsened and Wayne County was severed by the Neuse River, one van and displaced driver continued to serve the Mount Olive and southern portion of the county providing trips to the shelter, first at the train depot and later at Carver Elementary School, as well as providing life sustaining trips to the dialysis center in Mount Olive.

By October 11, the Neuse River had overflowed its banks and many areas were under water. Looking out my office window, I saw the Goldsboro Fire Department preparing to get into life rafts to go door to door checking on residents that did not heed the warning to evacuate. As residents were taken off the rafts, GWTA vans transported them to the shelters.

Shelter shuttles continued to operate as well as provide trips to the dialysis centers. One driver was called to the EOC to provide Spanish translation assistance. Additional bus service was added on Sunday, October 16, so that residents could finally venture out to WalMart or Piggly Wiggly to get food and other necessities.

GWTA staff and drivers were not alone in assisting in the recovery. There are numerous other people that donated food, clothing, and, most importantly, their time. Goldsboro, Wayne County, and other portions of Eastern North Carolina face a long road, to rebuild and get life back to normal.

I am proud of GWTA. Our drivers and staff have stepped up to help out, without any thought of recognition. GWTA has shown once again that we are your neighbor.

Thank you.

Fred Fontana
Director, GWTA