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A Little Voice Leaves a Big Impression in Atkinson

It was a simple greeting from a six-year-old in a McDonald’s that led to a heartwarming sense of community in the town of Atkinson, North Carolina.

On September 23, a five-person team from WaterStep set out on a relief mission to North Carolina in response to Hurricane Florence’s devastation. Making the mission possible was a $25,000 donation from GE Appliances.

The WaterStep team from left to right: Lynn Smith, Jordan Maiden, Kurtis Daniels, and Mark Hogg.[/caption]

The team, including Mark Hogg, Jordan Maiden, Lynn Smith, Kurtis Daniels and photographer Jerry McBroom, packed water systems to provide safe water and disinfectant for those in a time of need.

WaterStep packed all of the disaster equipment to be distributed to emergency response personnel on-site

The next day, the team arrived in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina, and set up a WaterStep Disaster Relief Kit to give residents immediate access to clean drinking and bathing water, leaving the systems with local community organizations for future use.

Kurtis Daniels trains a community organization in the use of a Disaster Relief Kit.
Mark Hogg and Jordan Maiden set up a Disaster Relief Kit bladder tank.
Jordan Maiden demonstrates how to use the BleachMaker

After a night of rest, the team then ventured out into rural areas of North Carolina to find towns in need of help. While the team stopped to eat breakfast at a local McDonald’s, a six-year-old girl named Victoria sparked up a conversation with team member Lynn by saying, “Hi.”

Hi! I’m Victoria!


Rebecca, Victoria’s mother, joined the conversation the six-year-old started and said she was there to get her daughter some pancakes after finally being able to get out of their flooded town.

The team said they were there to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and asked if they could be of any assistance.

Rebecca mentioned that a lot of people in her community were flooded out of their homes and needed help. So, she made a phone call.

Soon, the team was in contact with Atkinson Mayor Ken Smith, and he welcomed WaterStep’s help and invited the team down.

Rebecca and Mayor Smith meet with the WaterStep Team.


There, they spent the day, making bleach, training people how to use WaterStep technology, and setting up a Disaster Relief Kit.

Kurtis Daniels fills a Disaster Relief Kit bladder tank with the help of Atkinson Fire Department.
Lynn Smith trains local responders in the use of the BleachMaker
Kurtis Daniels demonstrates the set-up and operation of the Disaster Relief Kit.


Firefighters from the nearby town of Kelly load up Disaster Relief Kits, pumps, batteries, and other equipment provided by WaterStep.
Victoria shows her drawings to Lynn Smith during a break in the training.


After a long day, the team said their farewells to Rebecca, the town of Atkinson and the person who was the reason for it all, Victoria.

Victoria and Rebecca pose for photos with the team after a long day of training.


They left behind a Disaster Relief Kit with a 500-gallon tank full of safe drinking water at the town hall, and distirubted three more Disaster Relief Kits, and a 1200 gallon bladder tank with the City of Atkinson and the Fire Department of the neaby town of Kelly. These systems will allow immediate access to safe water and be available for future disasters.  

Local responders filled a 50 gallon drum with bleach distribute to those in need.


It only took one small interaction initiated by a six-year-old to impact this entire community.

The next day, the WaterStep team headed to Fair Bluff, where most of the main street was still underwater. 

Much of Fair Bluff’s main-street was still under water.


Most of the downtown businesses were inundated.


The team met with local residents to determine the best way to respond.


Disinfecting bleach is a vital resource in the wake of a disaster.


A Bleach Maker and water purification system were installed, and training sessions were conducted the following day.

Kurtis Daniels demonstrates the use of the M100 ChlorineGenerator.


A responder records Kurtis Daniels and Mark Hogg teaching how to use the Disaster Relief Kit.


Kurtis Daniels takes a break before training the Fair Bluff Fire Department.


WaterSteps Disaster Response Team left behind 10 Disaster Relief Kits, 24 BleachMakers, pumps, bladder tanks, M100’s, and the hope that with this equipment and training, the towns of Sneads Ferry, Atckinson, Fair Bluff, and Kelly North Carolina will be better able to provide safe water to their people if disaster strikes again.

After a week of remarkable and humbling events, the team returned home to Louisville and reminisced on the beautiful display of humanity they were able to experience.

It’s touching stories like this that serve as a great reminder of the compassion and collaboration that manifests after a disaster. A simple hello can change everything.

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