Charlotte man ready to host first responders helping hurricane victims

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As Hurricane Florence moves closer to the North Carolina coast, hundreds of out-of-state emergency crews are making their way to Charlotte to provide extra help.

Many hotels are already booked with evacuees, but one man in Dilworth is opening up his home to first responders and wants his neighbors to do the same.

Harvey Watson said he usually rents out the extra rooms in his home through a vacation rental company.

He found out that out-of-state volunteers need a place to stay, so he decided to prepare his home for up to six guests.

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"It's the right thing to do,” Watson said. “I mean, these people are leaving their families in Louisiana and driving all the way to North Carolina to help us.”

Watson said he filled out a form through the Cajun Navy Foundation to host six volunteers driving to Charlotte from Louisiana.

"Last night, I literally took every cup, every pitcher, every coffee pot that I have and filled it with filter water so my guests can stay hydrated," he said.

Watson said a few of his friends and neighbors have agreed to host. Rob Gaudet, founder of the Cajun Navy Foundation, said there are hundreds more volunteers who may need a place to stay.

"There's probably about 1,000 people going to the Charlotte area, maybe as many as 70 to 80 boats,” Gaudet said.

The Cajun Navy Foundation is a branch of a relief organization based in Louisiana that was first formed after Hurricane Katrina.

They’ve got members coming in as early as tonight and as late as next week to help with recovery efforts.

“It was formed around boat rescues, but we found ourselves doing supply runs, really anything that needs to be done. We just show up and help," Gaudet said.

Florence will be the fourth disaster the team has responded to.

"They're as trained as anyone's going to get in water safety and what it takes to navigate waterways and perform these rescues is really second nature to these guys,” Gaudet said.

Watson said hosting volunteers is his way of saying "thank you."

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