Ocracoke uprooted. Photo: P. Vankevich

The Ocracoke Interfaith Relief & Recovery Team has begun its work helping to continue the relief and recovery efforts from the devastating flooding by Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 6. Ocracoke Interfaith Relief & Recovery Team, known as (OIRRT), is a cooperative body that is made up of representatives from faith-based, non-profit, government, business and other organizations working within the community to assist individuals and families as they recover from a disaster.

Other communities have long-term recovery groups in place for disaster relief and have proven this type of group is beneficial to the rebuild and recovery of a community through long term efforts. To better understand OIRRT here is our mission statement: 
We strive to meet the needs for ongoing coordination among communities and entities providing volunteer, rebuild, financial, spiritual, physical and/or psychological support for people whose lives have been affected by disasters on Ocracoke Island.

To provide collaborative leadership in the discernment of long-term needs for recovery and rehabilitation that can be most effectively met or assisted by the Community.

To provide advocacy for people most vulnerable to having their needs overlooked in public recovery planning processes.

To advocate for ongoing preparedness within the community in cooperation with governmental and voluntary agencies active in disaster recovery. Setting up disaster long-term recovery plans to be utilized now and when/if the next storm happens in the future.

 The following make up the OIRRT board members:

Ivey Belch, board president; Misty Gibbs, vice chair; Darlene Styron, treasurer; Connie Leinbach, secretary/PIO; Jennifer Mongan, receiving and distribution; Twig Rollins, construction; Susie Fitch-Slater, unmet needs; Helena Stevens, OCBA; Margarita Gonzalez, Hispanic liaison; Stephen Basnight, Ocracoke School; and Ernie Doshier, Jeff Dippold and Charles Temple for the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department.

This group will advocate for the people living on Ocracoke and to make sure no one is overlooked.

The other organizations that OIRRT is working with to meet the needs of the people of Ocracoke are listed below with a description of their organization and the relief they offer our community.

Joint Recovery Center: Every islander, regardless of their level of need, is urged to go to the Joint Recovery Center (JRC) in the Variety Store parking lot to fill out the application of need.

This one-stop application will avoid duplication of paperwork should there be a need for this information to be shared with governmental and other nonprofits agencies.

The OIRRT will then use the information on this form to work with multiple agencies to fulfill islanders’ needs.

Casework: Caseworkers will be assigned to all applicants by OIRRT to help facilitate information be passed to our partner groups for assistance.

If you have not been contacted by a caseworker please be patient during this process, OIRRT is adding more caseworkers to help complete this mission in conjunction with UMCOR and other entities.

If you have concerns or immediate emergency needs please email unmet@oirrt.org or admin@oirrt.org or call  833-543-3248 and a case worker will be instructed to contact you.

U.S. Small Business Association: As of Oct. 21, islanders may now also apply in the for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Association. If people get turned down for an SBA loan, they can then immediately apply for a state grant, but all who want to be considered for a state grant MUST put in an SBA application. All this process can be done in the Joint Resource Center by the Variety Store until Oct. 30.

Outer Banks Community Foundation: The distribution of the funds collected by The Outer Banks Community Foundation (OBCF) are being facilitated in Ocracoke via the Ocracoke Fire Protection Association, Inc’s (OFPA)– Ocracoke Recovery Fund.  A separate release detailing their activities can be found here. The OIRRT is not involved in making decisions about the distribution of any donated funds. If you have questions regarding these funds, we encourage you to contact OBCF or OFPA.

Churches: The two island churches are considered partners to fulfill needs. Generally, the churches help people pay utility bills, rent, medical bills & food needs but all needs are considered.

Ocracoke Adopt a Family Program:
The Adopt a Family program launched through the Life Saving Church. This program anonymously matches donors on and off the island with families with specific basic and long-term needs. The hours for families to register will be updated weekly via the church Facebook page, church post, and they have started house-to-house canvasing to access needs.  People interested in adopting families may stop into the church at those times or email adopt@lifesaving.church.

Temporary housing: This resource is available on Ocracoke currently only through the generous donations of rental houses. Other entities along with OIRRT are working on addressing this problem.

VOADs (national Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster): These groups will be assisting in the rebuild process. UMCOR is just one of the groups we will be working with. Each house to be rebuilt will have to receive a grant from the United Methodists Committee on Relief (UMCOR), a VOAD partner. 

Business needs: Some of the questions on the JRC form address business needs. There are some opportunities out there to help local businesses. Making sure your business info is in the JRC database gives OIRRT the ability to talk with our partners and figure out the best way to help everyone. 

If you have any questions regarding the Ocracoke Interfaith Relief and Recovery Team, please feel free to contact Ivey Belch at admin@oirrt.org. We look forward to working together with the other community agencies to collectively collaborate to best meet the needs of the residents of Ocracoke Island.


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  1. This is truly a beautiful organization…made my day, warmed my heart (and in Ohio IT IS COLD) Thank you fro the warmth of your community, Much love to you all!

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