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Shortage Of Supplies Hampers Hurricane Relief Effort In Perquimans County

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HERTFORD, N.C. — Imagine going to a relief agency for help after a disaster and being turned away.

That is happening to victims from Hurricane Isabel. Nearly two weeks after the storm hit, relief groups are running out of supplies. People in Perquimans County are being told there is nothing left.

A handful of helpers from the Salvation Army are greatly outnumbered by the people who need help in Hertford, people who are just trying to get something to eat.

Percy Wiggins and his wife waited more than four hours Tuesday before volunteers gave them a numbered ticket and told them to come back Wednesday. They waited three more hours Wednesday, but their number still was not called.

The extra day paid off for Betty White. She left with much-needed bottled water, cleaning supplies, and a gift card to buy groceries.

"It means a lot," White said. "I think the Salvation Army is doing a wonderful job."

The Salvation Army came to this community expecting to help about 300 families. Since volunteers have arrived, more than 600 people have applied for assistance. Because of that, supplies are running out.

James Rodgers was one of many people turned away Wednesday. With no supplies left, he could not even get a ticket for Thursday.

"They couldn't help us because they are out of what they had," Rodgers said. "So we have to go to either Elizabeth City or Edenton."

Elizabeth City and Edenton are more than a 30-minute drive away. Lines also were long in those hard-hit areas.

"People come to the Salvation Army thinking they are going to have something to go home with," the Salvation Army's Neil Luangamath said. "When I end up saying no, and they turn around, I kind of take away that hope."

The Salvation Army hopes donations will come in so it can stay open here a few more days. Otherwise the Wiggins' group could be the end of the line.

The Salvation Army is sending people to the Red Cross until they can restock. Anyone who would like to donate any items or money to help the victims is encouraged to contact the Salvation Army, Red Cross or the Food Bank of North Carolina.