supervises 86 people in the fifth judicial
district. Wilmington is his hometown, but he
worked in Charlotte for ten years. Being in the
middle of a storm is nothing new to Gootee and
his family. For generations, his family has lived
on the coast and weathered many a storm. His
grandmother was 14 years old when the Hurricane
of 1926 hit Miami and literally blew her above
power lines to an abandoned hospital where she
found shelter from the storm. Her father rented
beach cottages and the family lived in one. There
were no warning systems then as there are today.
When the hurricane hit, and the cottage was
coming apart around them, the father had tight
hold of his daughters hand, but the wind
separated them. It took two weeks for the family
to find one another. They were all safe, but the
uninsured cottages were gone. His 86 year-old
grandmother, Gertrude Brinson, lives in
Wilmington now and takes these storms in stride.
Murrill has been with Community Corrections
for six and a half years. She checked licenses at
the northern end of Carolina Beach after the
hurricane swept through. "When you start
telling people they cant go to their house,
they are very upset and angry," Murrill
said. "I try to be sympathetic and
understanding, but tell them its just too
dangerous to go."
Mark Pittman is an Intensive
officer. During his 15 years with Community
Corrections, Pittman developed the electronic
house arrest program for the Wilmington area. He
is now a firearms instructor and teaches unarmed
self defense and pepper spray training. Pittman
stopped traffic at the main intersection of
Carolina Beach and said the residents showed a
lot of gratitude for the officers work.
"We didnt anticipate that,"
Pittman said. "The residents have become
dependent on us, saying, We really
appreciate you watching our property. That
Grissom shows how far the water rose during
Hurricane Bonnie. The old magistrates
office was abandoned after Hurricane Fran.
Grissom was a housewife for 15 years before the
magistrate at Carolina Beach suggested that she
would make a good probation and parole officer.
Now she cant wait to go to work each
morning. "I was from Cary, and had never
seen a criminal before," Grissom said.
"I like the uncertainty when you go into
work, not knowing whats going to happen
that day." Grissom was ready for Bonnie.
"We felt it was the best thing for us to do.
We couldnt do anything at home anyway, with
the power out, and we felt we should be there for
the residents." She said the type of work
they do, always being on call, goes hand-in-hand
with hurricane duty.
has been a surveillance officer for three years
and had been a correctional officer for eight
years at Brown Creek Correctional Institution and
Union Correctional Center. He also worked seven
years for the federal prison system. "There
were a lot of upset people when they found their
property was devastated," Smith said.
"They came back through the check points
with their cars piled high with wet blankets.
Some asked where they could go."
has worked in Community Corrections for 17 years.
When called on following Hurricane Bonnie, she
helped secure street corners, blocking off the
road and allowing only residents who had valid ID
with their address on it. Unlike Hurricane Fran,
the beach was open to the public the next day.
Even though some cars floated across the street,
Hurricane Bonnie was not as severe at Carolina
Beach as Fran was, Webb said.
Rojas spent 15 years in the Marine Corps
doing criminal investigations and polygraphs
before coming to work for Community Corrections
nearly three years ago. He laughs at the irony of
being in Desert Shield and Desert Storm
operations for the military, yet, "The State
says I cant carry a gun." Rojas, born
in Puerto Rico, has a heavy Hispanic caseload and
is often called on by the courts to interpret
testimony. His brother, a police officer in
Puerto Rico, is dealing with the blows from
Hurricane Georges and said that it may be January
before power is fully restored on that island.
Although Bonnie wasnt as harsh, Rojas said
he saw several people crying and could see the
emotional stress in their faces from the
devastation of their property.
HURRICANE DUTY FOR
Photos and text by
Terry Gootee, manager of Judicial
District 5, found himself with an injured pelican plopped
in his arms after Hurricane Bonnie hit Sept. 25. Two dogs
hungrily eyed the bird as a Carolina Beach resident
deposited the critter and left. Gootee quickly called the
animal rescue folks who were, fortunately, not too far
Six officers of Wilmingtons
Community Corrections staff, Judicial District 5, whose
beat is Carolina Beach, and Gootee, agreed to help the
Carolina Beach police if the hurricane hit there. When
Bonnie did come ashore, the chief of police called for
their help. Community Corrections officers set up
roadblocks until roadways were cleared and downed wires
The same officers worked following
Hurricane Fran in 1996 when residents were upset and
angry at not being allowed back on the island. This time,
residents thanked the officers for their work keeping
looters and rubberneckers away from their property.
Other employees from JD5 were on
stand-by if help was needed. The entire office must
prepare for a storm by securing the office building,
collecting all the Electronic House Arrest equipment from
offenders and returning it promptly when the storm has
While waiting for power to be restored,
surveillance officers take on the supervision of the
offenders. Phone trees are set up to notify staff that
they are needed.