FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 24, 2018
Ashley Taylor, New Bern High, Class of 1999
Derrick "Benetez" Bryant, New Bern High School Class of 1999
Shakiera Causey, New Bern High, Class of 1998
Documentarian: Jade Wilson, 910-624-7047, firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Contact: Omisade Burney-Scott, West Craven High, Class of 1985
Colorfest, Inc. demands Hurricane Florence recovery support for ALL New Bern residents
Nine days after one of the most devastating storms in New Bern, NC’s history, many residents aren’t receiving desperately needed support from city, county, and federal relief agencies. With some estimates of property damage topping $100 million, we want to draw attention to the difficulties many families now face in accessing basic living necessities. After knocking on doors and speaking to community members in Trent Court public housing community, Duffyfield, and Sunnyside communities, we now share what we’re hearing and demand that their voices be heard and basic needs be met. No one in our community should be left behind. Here are a few videos we have produced with videographer Jade Wilson to show the devastating impacts in these communities, and an overview of what we’ve heard in the last few days:
Families, already enrolled in SNAP program, are being denied critical food assistance and being told they are only eligible for $15 in emergency food stamps. Mothers have come to us with infants who only had one diaper left and had run out of formula. Colorfest has served meals to hundreds of residents thus far and needs additional support distributing to these communities as many are only able to access hot meals being provided in the city by foot or bicycle.
Safety and Security.
Many have shared that they would have evacuated New Bern had they been able. Some were on probation and were told by officers that if they left the city under the mandatory evacuation, they would be arrested for violating probation orders. Several individuals who were on house arrest were preemptively arrested by the Sheriff's department ahead of the storm noting the eventual loss in power that would cause their ankle bracelets to cease working. Some were told by employers that they would be fired if they didn’t show up for work right before the storm hit. With a lack of clear evacuation plan and no resources to leave, most of the city’s poorest residents had no choice but to stay in town. Many of the city’s children are showing signs of trauma and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Several residents shared with us first-hand accounts of poor, African-American, and elderly residents forced to leave the Benn Quinn Elementary School shelter because it was over capacity, only to learn that they were making space for more affluent community members from River Bend to seek shelter. Once transported on prison buses to Cherry Point Military Base, they were again told to evacuate and with nowhere left to go, were transferred yet again to a shelter in Winston-Salem.
With housing completely underwater, residents have removed soaking furniture from their homes, only to have it sit outside for days. Many were given a gallon of bleach at their doors with no cleaning supplies or buckets. With lack of shelters available, they’re forced to live in homes with black mold appearing. Families with HUD vouchers are not being released from their rental agreements in homes that have no electricity, caved roofs, wet carpets, and black mold throughout. Landlords are filing for FEMA and their tenants are being denied support if they are on Section 8 vouchers. Residents in Trent Court have heard through rumor that they cannot have power restored until each individual unit has been checked by the city manager. No one has seen any city officials nor FEMA representatives since the storm. People have not been told of temporary or emergency housing opportunities.
Colorfest is in it for the long haul -- doing whatever we can to support marginalized communities in New Bern on their journey to rebuild.
About Colorfest, Inc.
Colorfest is committed to bringing the arts to underprivileged children in a diverse setting. We are devoted to bringing all forms of art to the community through beautification projects, educational outreach, art exhibits, and performances. We are currently working diligently to secure funds and supplies that go directly impacted residents of New Bern, North Carolina. We are partnering with individuals and organizations/institutions such as SpiritHouse Inc., Project South/Southern Movement Assembly (SMA), The Highlander Center, Be Connected Durham, the Carolina Peace Center and North Carolina Central University.
You can make donations at www.PayPal.me/Colorfestinc or www.PayPal.me/NewBernStrong. We also stand in SOLIDARITY with the Eastern NC Solidarity Network NC and Blueprint NC who are collecting funds and donations that will be dispersed THROUGHOUT the impacted areas.