Strange helps with hurricane relief through social media
October 08, 2018
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- "I didn't do anything,” 17-time PGA TOUR winner Curtis Strange says. “I put out a tweet and people are very, very generous and I can't thank them enough." (Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
It started with a tweet.
Curtis Strange was up late one night at his home in Morehead City on the North Carolina coast. He couldn’t stop thinking about the destruction left by Hurricane Florence last month.
Trees down everywhere. Floodwaters that still hadn’t receded. Blue tarps covering homes that no longer had roofs. Families that had lost absolutely everything.
Strange felt helpless.
“Honestly, I've been through many hurricanes, but this one was the worst for me,” he says. “You want to help because you have power, you have a house, a roof above your head and so many don't.”
So he took to Twitter to tell people he was going to use his house as a distribution center. Send cleaning supplies and toiletries and paper towels and rubber gloves. Strange would make sure the boxes got to the relief effort.
Please just open your hearts and help. Strange even included his home address in the tweet.
“My son gave me hell the next day,” Strange says with a chuckle. “I said, you know, it'll take you 60 seconds to find everything about me on Google. So what difference does it make?”
Three days later, boxes started arriving. Sometimes a dozen a day, sometimes 20 or more. All of which Strange loaded onto the bed of his truck or into the back of the SUV and took to the distribution center at the First United Methodist Church.
“It's been overwhelming,” Strange says.
Morehead City CC. N.C. Devastation everywhere. Never been involved in anything like this.1st responders restores your faith in man.We need non perishable food,cleaning supplies,toiletries for men,women,and children. Diapers,anything you can think of. Thank you 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/HSL9iN0Hek— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) September 20, 2018
Another shipment of boxes for Florence relief. Thank you all for the generosity. ✌️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/6CdAlre9qt— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) September 24, 2018
Hurricane Florence Relief Fund. Another idea for you generous souls. You can use Amazon and they will deliver to the Methodist Church. Address is 900 Arendell St, Morehead City,NC 28557. We will distribute to all areas around us in need. Thank you all in advance 🇺🇸✌️ pic.twitter.com/HJPIYBbvum— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) September 21, 2018
Hope I don’t wear you all out. But want to say thank you every time a shipment comes to house. Thank you again. ✌️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/6Xv2T7mcco— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) September 26, 2018
WOW !Another load from generous friends.Will be distributed 2 the surrounding areas.Names don’t come on the packages but u know who you are.Cant thank u enough. At this point we have what we think is enough supplies at this point.If still want to help,plz contact RedCross 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/NrcXDbY1RF— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) October 1, 2018
Almost every time a shipment came, the two-time U.S. Open champion would take pictures of the boxes left on his front porch and tweet it out. It was his way of saying thanks to the many, many strangers who heeded his call.
Strange and his wife Sarah actually weren’t in North Carolina when the storm hit. Six months earlier they had made plans with friends to go trout fishing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. So they “battened down the hatches,” Strange says, and headed west – and not too long afterward mandatory evacuation orders came for Morehead City.
“It was hard to relax and enjoy yourself when you're watching this thing bear right down on your community,” he says.
Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, which is about 90 miles south of Morehead City, at 7:14 a.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 14. The unwelcome visitor, which had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, lingered for days, sucking up moisture from the Atlantic Ocean and moving slowly east, causing massive flooding across the eastern part of the state even weeks later.
Strange wasn’t able to get home until the following Tuesday. All the nearby airports were closed so he had to fly into Charlotte and then take a circuitous route to get home, finding back roads that would let him skirt the many flooded areas.
While Strange and his wife were in Wyoming, friends sent photos of their home and it appeared to have escaped relatively unscathed. As it turned out, there was significant water damage to the ceilings and drywall. Strange knows he was lucky, though.
“Two houses from me, they've gutted the entire house and so mattresses, their sofas, their chairs, their belongings are in a pile of rubble in front,” he says. “That hits home, when you don't have a place to lay down.”
The fury of the storm became strikingly evident the day after Strange got back from Wyoming when he ventured over to Morehead City Country Club.
“There were 30-inch diameter oak trees or bigger and pine trees that were actually twisted because tornadoes coming through there,” Strange says. “The debris was just like a war zone. …
“Mother Nature, man, she wins every time, she really does.”
Strange and his wife eventually canceled a trip to Paris for the Ryder Cup. The 63-year-old, who played on five teams and captained the 2002 U.S. squad, says there were just too many things to take care of at his house where workmen were visiting almost daily.
“You can't go over there and enjoy yourself and be a part of something like that knowing that you have mildew growing at home,” he says.
As he got involved in the relief effort, Strange marveled at the first responders and other volunteers who saved so many lives and are now helping to put them back together again.
“It’s been so overwhelming and people forget about where do these people stay?” Strange says. “They're sleeping in the fire station, on the concrete floor. They have cots put up in these kind of homes away from home, tented villages.
“These people work in 19-, 20-hour days to get power on and help people and it's been amazing.”
Some semblance of normalcy is slowly beginning to return to the eastern part of North Carolina. But this is just the beginning. It will be months before homes are repaired and rebuilt.
Although boxes occasionally still arrive, the makeshift distribution center at the Strange household is now closed. Instead, he refers people who want to help to the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
When told he should be proud of what he’s done, Strange doesn’t hesitate.
“I didn't do anything,” he says. “I put out a tweet and people are very, very generous and I can't thank them enough.
“They've helped so many people. They just don't know how much a box of supplies, how far it goes. And I think we all think the box, I just won't do it. It'd be a box.
“Well, it all helps and when you start piling them up in the church and see what they're doing -- it really makes a difference.”