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A call for volunteers

North Carolina Baptist Men, providing disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Irene, are set up in four locations in North Carolina, and they are seeking volunteers.

UNC-TV teams with WRAL for disaster relief telethon

UNC-TV is joining WRAL's Here to Help Disaster Relief Telethon, which will simulcast on both stations Wednesday, April 20, from 7 to 8 p.m.

The telethon will raise money to help North Carolinians devastated by Saturday's tornadoes. In addition to the evening telethon, phone lines will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday (call 1-800-424-9725) and donations can also be made securely online.

All money donated will fund relief missions now underway by the Triangle Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, the North Carolina Baptist Men’s Association and the Salvation Army of Wake County.

Programming note: 'Nightly Business Reoprt,' which usually airs on UNC-TV at 7 p.m., will air at 1:30 a.m. instead.

Estes returns to life in Zebulon

Zebulon's Jay Estes made it back from volunteering in Haiti in good health and on time.
His wife, Sharon, picked him up from RDU Friday afternoon at 6:30.
He was able to catch a flight out of Port-au-Prince that morning. He reported UPS planes, and military and commercial planes at the airport, and said it was all luck as to which plane you got on in your departure.
Lucky for Estes, he managed the commercial version — appropriately an American Airlines flight to Miami from where he hopped a connecting flight to Raleigh.
Estes got straight to business when he made his way aboard the plane. FOOD. Despite having wheat allergies he refused to turn down the turkey clubs being given out on the flight.
Must have been a comforting return to normalcy from the rice, beans, goat meat and sugar cane diet he acquired in Haiti.
A first hand-description of his experience is set to run in this coming Wednesday's edition of the Eastern Wake News.

Estes' return home might be delayed

Jay Estes, the Zebulon man volunteering in Haiti, called his wife, Sharon, yesterday and said he heard the military has quit flying people back to the United States.

At that he’s not sure what to expect when he and his group of six other volunteers get to the airport in Port-au-Prince today, when they expected to catch a lift home.

Sharon said if they have to go back to Santo Domingo it could mean an extra day or two before they can get home, but Jay's hoping that's not the case.

Jay also told Sharon he's heard "some disturbing numbers on infant mortality."

Of the 1,000 new-borns each year, he said around 630 don’t live one year. I take that to be the case regardless of the recent tragedy that struck the area.

Jay had to have been put off by this because he said this with a mind that a year from now that many of the children his group helped won’t be alive.

He told Sharon "Malaria is rampant and continues to claim lives and with the horrible conditions since the earthquake it’s a breeding ground." He told her the rivers are "so contaminated with garbage," and that the group is really glad it took water purification pills with them.

Sharon hopes the next time she hears from Jay it will be when he's back on home turf.

Estes reports from Haiti

I know this is long-winded, but it's not easy cutting info out of a need-to-know report.

Jay Estes, the Zebulon man who is volunteering with the relief effort in Haiti, was able to pay a Haitian man to use his cell phone and call his wife, Sharon, yesterday evening.

Jay told his wife his relief group is now manning a refugee camp of some 500 people. There's no Red Cross help of any kind and the place they are using for a hospital is simply a concrete floor with a roof overhead.

On a lighter note, Jay came come in contact with U.S. Army Special Forces earlier in the week and told them of the group's cause. Special Forces followed the relief group to the camps — which no one previously knew existed — and tagged the location in their GPS device to mark the area for supply drop-offs.

He met up with Special Forces when the relief group realized they were staying in the same hotel and he followed Special Forces to the airport in Port-au-Prince on Sunday to stock up on supplies.

Jay told Sharon he had to follow the Special Forces Jeep at high speeds to keep people from jumping in their vehicles, but they were able to secure 1,200 meals for the Haitians in the camp.

He reported on the hunger and illness spreading in an area full of chaos. He told Sharon a little boy sat in his lap, held tight and wouldn’t let go as the group transported the orphaned children to a school in Montrouis.

The members of the relief group plan to leave all clothes they took to Haiti except those they are wearing when they leave for the United States on a military flight out of Port-au-Prince Friday.

Communicating with Haiti

I'm in contact with Sharon Estes, of Zebulon, whose husband Jay boarded a plane to Santo Domingo this morning to volunteer in the disaster relief in Haiti.

Since cell phone reception is anticipated to be spotty and other forms of communication limited, I'm hoping to get as many live updates as I possibly can from Jay, documenting his time with the effort.

As of this morning Jay and the group he traveled with were unsure what their method of communication will be until they actually reach Haiti. One woman in the group has an iPhone and at least hopes to be able to send text message updates in the event cell phones don't work.

Still, as of this morning, the group was said to have made the flight together, and all involved were said to be "standing tall". To this point, everything has gone to plan.

More updates on Estes' trip will come, pending technology allows.

Deadline for small biz aid approaching

The deadline to apply for a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration is this Friday.

The loans are available to homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profit organizations in Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Jones, Lenoir, Pamlico and Pitt counties whose property was damaged by the severe storms and flooding that hit those areas on Aug. 12.


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