NEWS Food truck saves the day during Moore County power outage

Food trucks offer hot food for Moore County NC residents in midst of outages

Zack Perez, who works on a Wildfire Pizza truck, helps provide service to Moore County residents, many of whom have been without power since Saturday.

Zack Perez, who works on a Wildfire Pizza truck, helps provide service to Moore County residents, many of whom have been without power since Saturday.

Teddy Rosenbruth

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Moore County without power

Thousands of people in Moore County, North Carolina, were without power after a substation was damaged. Here’s the latest from The News & Observer.

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Rachel Jurgens always knew that food trucks would eventually save the day.

Jurgens, who owns a food truck depot in Moore County, believes their mobility and self-sufficient nature make them the perfect vehicle for delivering the food, coffee and beer people really need in an emergency.

When she strategizes how her food truck parking lot, Red’s Corner, will help her community in an emergency, she imagines a snowstorm or hurricane, not a malicious attack on her city’s power supply. Still, when she heard her town would have to be without power for a few days, she assembled a fleet of trucks to meet the demand.

Among the darkened traffic lights and icy houses, Red’s Corner was one of the few places in Southern Pines that looked normal, several customers said.

1206 - Moore County Food Trucks
Susan Petra, Judy Vickery and Lynn Hoxworth (left to right) share a beer at Red’s Corner.Teddy Rosenbruth Teddy Rosenbruth

Amid the hum of a generator, a musician strums his electric guitar, powered by a Cookies & Moore truck. The kids played soccer in the grass pit behind the truck. Crowds of people and their pets huddled around patio heaters and fire pits.

“It’s so communal that even all the dogs get along,” said Ouida Newell, owner of the Wildfire Pizza Truck.

Daisy warms up by a fire in Red Corner during a countywide power outage.Teddy Rosenbruth Teddy Rosenbruth

When shift trucks run out of food (they don’t yet have refrigerators to store extra supplies), Jurgens says she has a “laundry list” of food truck owners who have volunteered to drive in from other parts of the state to fill it out.

Some, like Mark Keller, aren’t even in for the hot food—they just want a warm place to relax.

“It was almost like an anniversary party or a birthday party, even though we didn’t know each other,” said South Pines Mayor Carol Haney, who happened to be eating there. “I think we’re all celebrating the fact that we’re safe and warm.”

Food trucks have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for meals for locals who can’t afford them. Jurgens said anyone in need of a free meal can call her directly and ask her to deliver it individually.

Meat and Greek truck will also use the funds to continue delivering food to local police departments and people unable to leave their homes.

Locky and Lynne Brown, who live across the street from Red’s Corner, have been without power since Saturday night, surviving on leftover cheese and peanut butter in their pantry. Two days later, they finally decided to go out for their first hot meal since the outage: meatballs.

“Food trucks really saved the day,” Lynn Brown said, biting into a sandwich.

The community showed appreciation for the truck with generous tips and good business. Newell said she sold almost three times as many pizzas as she would on a typical weekday. She only stopped selling when the cheese ran out.

“I earned more tips yesterday than I’ve earned in my entire life,” she said.

Southern Pines has embraced food trucks as a solution to the town’s crisis. Harney said the town has eased restrictions on on-street parking and generator use, which would normally not be allowed due to noise ordinances.

“We just need to feed people,” she said.

Related coverage from the Raleigh News and Observer

Teddy Rosenbluth reports on science for The News & Observer in positions funded by Duke Health and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. She has covered science and health care for the Los Angeles Magazine, the Santa Monica Daily Journal and the Concord Monitor. Her investigative reporting is everywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to the hospitals of New Delhi. She graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychobiology.

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