TEAM SPOTLIGHT: Michael Caudle finds himself in a 'war zone'
Not knowing how bad it would be when he volunteered to aid in Hurricane Florence’s aftermath, Codes Facilitator Michael Caudle packed a bag of basic necessities and headed for the east coast.
After arriving at the Brunswick County Emergency Operations Center, the 25-year Cabarrus employee from Construction Standards received his first list of assignments to help those who fell victim to the devastating floods that resulted from the hurricane. He served to speed up inspection processes to ensure that buildings were safe allowing people who had been evacuated to return to their homes and businesses.
The storm made landfall weeks before near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., becoming the wettest tropical cyclone recorded in the Carolinas.
Where Caudle was stationed in the Brunswick and Duplin county areas, some homes saw seven feet of water, ruining every piece of furniture inside. Drywall, insulation and floors were ripped from homes due to water damage. Caudle drove through neighborhood after neighborhood seeing family possessions on curbs ready for the landfill.
“It was literally like a war zone,” Caudle said. Homes were destroyed. Tanks patrolled the ground. Helicopters hovered above.
Additional support groups, including FEMA and the Army, were there to help.
The hardest part was speaking with the families who were impacted, Caudle added. Most were crying and distraught after their lives were forever changed by the hurricane.
For a week straight, Caudle worked 12-hour shifts to do all that he could. When it was too dark to work, he stayed in one of the few areas that wasn’t flooded, the abandoned Duplin County Jail Annex. Despite the encampment, volunteers were told to make themselves at home with access to food, bathrooms and showers.
Caudle has volunteered multiple times and plans to again when the opportunity arises.
“It’s no big deal if I have to be in discomfort for a week,” Caudle said. “I love to help people in need. I’ve always been that way. I’m glad I can do it and the County allows us to go.”
Caudle was not alone. Additional Cabarrus employees volunteered to aid in Florence’s aftermath.
Tim Gray of Construction Standards went to Onslow County to also help with buildings inspections. Todd Helm and Phil King of EMS took an ambulance to the east coast to help with emergency response.
The four earned recognition for their contributions during the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners meeting on Oct. 15, 2018.
“Those people affected by the storm, I know, appreciate it more than they can ever say,” Chairman Steve Morris said at the meeting. “Thank you for making us so proud in Cabarrus County.”