‘They need clean clothes’

Charles Moseley is going to get his wish. He's finally going to get some clean underwear.

BY PJ HELLER | HATTERAS, N.C. | September 25, 2003

Charles Moseley is going to get his wish. He's finally going to get some clean underwear.

Ever since Hurricane Isabel decimated this Outer Banks community, cutting it off from the mainland, knocking out electrical and telephone service and destroying its water system - residents like Moseley have had to cope the best they could.

While some essential services have been restored – telephone and a majority of electrical service – the water system remains out of commission and is not expected to come on-line for several more days. What water is available is being rationed; portable showers have been set up in a trailer.

Moseley, the pastor at the Hatteras United Methodist Church, joked about the conditions to his congregation earlier this week, noting that he was running out of clean clothes.

"I said to them there was no need to even look around to see who it is that smells because we all stink," he said. "I said I'm on my last pair of shorts, what some people call their underwear. I call them my drawers."

It wasn't long before Moseley's message spread to other Outer Banks towns.

Pastor Susie Slater of St. John's United Methodist Church in Avon heard about Moseley's dilemma and decided to help not only him, but others on Hatteras who were in the same dirty situation.

So she arranged for women in her congregation to take in laundry from Hatteras – sent over by boat, the only way currently to get to the town since Hurricane Isabel wiped out the only road.

Authorities were allowing only residents and relief workers to go back and forth to the island.

Slater said the laundry will come over on a morning boat, be distributed to people for washing, then will be brought back to the dock in the afternoon in time to catch the last boat back to Hatteras.

"They need clean clothes," Slater said. "Nothing makes you feel better than clean clothes."

At the Hatteras church on Tuesday afternoon, plastic bags stuffed with laundry filled the front entryway. The bags were labeled with each person's name.

Even the U.S. mail, which typically was delivered to and from Hatteras by truck, was being hauled back and forth by boat, accompanied by postal workers.

The laundry cleaning project was just one of many efforts being reported of people helping others in the wake of the hurricane, which made landfall in North Carolina and spread its devastation through the mid-Atlantic states.

Slater said the laundry idea was simply an effort by people who wanted to respond in some way to help those affected by the storm.

"I worked in New York at ground zero after 9/11, and in visiting people (here) yesterday, I saw in their eyes that same blank soulless look," she reported.

"It's very disturbing that people want to respond and need to respond but not knowing how and feeling powerless," she said.

In Avon, where her church is located, damage was not significant.

"We are so aware of how much we have to be thankful for," Slater said. "Not responding (to help others) is almost like not saying, 'Thank you God.' It's not always just enough to say, 'Thank you, thank you Lord my house is standing' when you know that just down the road your brother's house is demolished, is gone, doesn't exist."

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