Last week hurricane Matthew ripped through eastern/central North Carolina and it was much more than we bargained for. Majority of the time here on the east coast especially in the Carolinas we almost scoff at hurricanes with a bit of arrogance and “hurricane parties”. Matthew proved to be nothing short of catastrophic. Homes were ruined, flooding took lives, destroyed infrastructure, but the effect it had on our food was tremendous.
I was extremely lucky to have not lost power, water, or any damage to personal property. I live near downtown Fayetteville, so a lot of the runoff went down the hill to hay street and downtown area. I live alone and all my family lives abroad, so I scraped what I had for food and prepared some hot meals, opened my meager 700 sq ft little duplex to folks for hot showers, charge phones, WiFi to stay connected. I had not gone grocery shopping before the storm but luckily I had power to patty up some ground beef for hamburger steak. It wasn’t fancy by any means but it was a warm meal.
Once the storm lifted you could see obvious damage and destruction but the food trucks I work for cancelled all the weddings and events for the month due to whole food orders being either flooded or in the danger zone too long. A lot of small business owners lost serious amounts of food, which in turn lost revenue. My friend who works downtown said they had to toss their whole kitchen as well. I put the word out for a volunteer prep team to help local business; however they were fully staffed and did not end up needing our help. I can only imagine crop fields, gardens, livestock, that were lost and the toll it took on local farmers. Hopefully they will recover quickly without a mortal blow to their business.
I think we in the food industry need to stick together in disasters like this. We hold a very high regard for fine dining but in times of need we hold a skill and I feel a duty to bring the basics of the restaurant to those in need; “to restore”. Which is exactly what North Carolina needs.