What comes to your mind when you think of parks and recreation? What do they do? What services do they provide? Who are they? For most, the answers to these questions are simple and normally involve something to do with sports. However, here at Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation (FCPR), we are so much more than that and the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in early October allowed our department to reveal its other roles in the community.
FCPR consists of three divisions: parks, recreation and building maintenance. These three areas cover a multitude of responsibilities including administration, athletics, general recreation centers, seniors, therapeutic, cultural and youth development, historic properties, rangers, special events, park maintenance, city building maintenance and maintaining right of ways.
In the days leading up to October 8, the role of FCPR shifted. Before the storm even arrived in Fayetteville, an emergency shelter was opened at Smith Recreation Center and staff was scheduled around the clock to assist with operations. As the effects of Hurricane Matthew began arriving in Fayetteville on Saturday, October 8, additional shelters were needed to service the community and a second FCPR facility was opened. With devastating rains and high winds, staff did not hesitate to leave the safety of their homes to aid the Red Cross with the opening of the shelter at Kiwanis Recreation Center. In addition to the shelter operations, FCPR had teams in action during and throughout extreme weather conditions assisting in rescue efforts, removing citizens from flooded areas, powering facilities, providing transportation and aiding the Red Cross in picking up and delivering cots, blankets, water, snacks and other items to the shelters.
Once the storm passed, the cleanup effort began and FCPR was at the forefront with tree and limb removal from city streets and properties, clearing parks and cleaning city facilities. Shelter operations continued while staff assisted with the Feed the Children food and supply giveaway at Spivey Recreation Center and Blue Street Senior Center. As the community rebounded and schools reopened, the shelters at Smith and Kiwanis were closed and Westover Recreation Center was then opened and continued to offer shelter to displaced residents for several more weeks with recreation staff maintaining a 24 hour presence at the facility through the closure of the shelter on Saturday, October 29. FCPR was proud to lend a helping hand, all while continuing to provide recreation programs to the citizens of Fayetteville and Cumberland County.
As things begin to return to normal for our community, FCPR has transitioned back into regular operations, but will continue to standby, ready to provide assistance in a moment’s notice.