“Frisco Mo” is a hardy man who defines self-reliance. At 87, he loves telling his seafaring stories and reliving adventures from years as a fisherman. Living on Hatteras Island when Hurricane Matthew blew through, he remained undaunted, though his situation was very dire.
Before daylight on the morning of the storm, Mo was in his house with his cat — very cold and in waist-deep water. He heard banging on his door and found his neighbor on a surfboard coming to rescue him.
Knowing he was already too cold to get into the water and cling to a surfboard, he
told his neighbor about his old skiff tied to a tree in his backyard. Once in the skiff and being nearly swept into the sound, they made it to Highway 12 where they were picked up in a “high wheeler” and taken to shelter.
The Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men (CHUMM) first heard from Mo when he
called to ask for assistance for his neighbor. When CHUMM volunteers went to investigate, they found Mo and his neighbors trying to salvage items from their homes. Although it was obvious that he also needed help, Mo insisted that he was okay and that others were in greater need. His only request from Dare County Department of Social Services was a sweater.
However, after he and his neighbors had salvaged and repaired all they could, his
greatest need became clear: a refrigerator. A friend had given him a bed and he had salvaged his stove, washing machine, and a chair. When asked what else he needed, he replied “nothing.” Later, though, he mentioned that he did miss his sofa where he and his cat used to sit. “But that,” he added, would be “strictly a luxury.”
CHUMM bought him a new refrigerator and sofa, and helped him get heat. And the sweater? An employee from Dare County Department of Social Services bought him one.
Soon after, he seriously injured his back helping another neighbor. A friend offered to
take him to Florida where, according to Mo, he had “miracle” surgery at the local VA hospital that involved “gluing” his vertebrae back together to relieve his pain.
Still in Florida, he swims daily at the State Park. In fact, just recently during one of
his swims, he spotted something small far out where the water moves hurriedly to the sea. As he swam toward it, he could see more clearly — a little girl — in trouble — being swept out to sea! Frisco Mo, at 87, swam out to get her and bring her safely back to shore.
In two weeks, Mo plans to come home to Hatteras Island. “I’ve got to get back to
work,” he laughs. “A fisherman only has the money he made from his last catch.”
Frisco Mo remains, as always, in great spirits.
Above all, though, he is grateful.
Dennis Carroll, Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men
For 39 years, Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men (CHUMM) has been providing emergency assistance for Hatteras Islanders. Over the years, the group has become the primary emergency assistance organization on the island, having developed a loyal network of donors. CHUMM membership includes Methodists, Catholics, Baptists, and other affiliations.
CHUMM started with a list of over 200 families needing assistance in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. After several months, the group is down to an active list of 24 families. To date, CHUMM has provided over $100,000 for Hurricane Matthew relief and expects to spend at least $50,000 more.