Wilmington temporary shelter ‘under the big top’
By: Major Frank Duracher
The Salvation Army of Cape Fear (Wilmington, North Carolina) is attacking a severe COVID-19 related problem presented to asymptomatic homeless and transient individuals in Hanover County. A sprawling white tent is erected next to the Army’s downtown facility on North Third Street.
The unique response followed a joint letter from Major Mark Craddock, Wilmington corps officer, and Katrina R. Knight, executive director of the Good Shepherd Center – two of Wilmington’s leading emergency shelter agencies – addressed to Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and New Hanover County Commission Chair Julia Olson-Boseman.
“In the coming days, the city and county must take action to address the immediate needs of homeless residents or risk mass infection and lives lost throughout the community,” the joint-letter stated. “Existing emergency shelter do not have the capacity or wherewithal to quarantine persons with COVID-19.”
One solution: a 25-bed temporary shelter, complete with hot meal feeding, restrooms, laundry facilities and a hand-sanitizing station. Very soon after the tent was erected, it filled up. In addition to those temporarily housed, the Army is tasked with providing food boxes to the community families struggling financially during the crisis.
“Some of us are a little bit scared right now. So are these people here,” Major Mark states in a video posted on Facebook.
The Salvation Army is also assisting in placing into hotels individuals who have tested positive with the coronavirus, he added, for proper quarantine purposes.
The Army is a member of the New Hanover Disaster Coalition, an inclusive and diverse alliance of some 70 community leaders, faith groups, nonprofits and members of the public dedicated to the readiness, relief and recovery of all New Hanover County residents affected by disasters – presently addressing needs presented by COVID-19.