Beyond the movies: EUE/Screen Gems Studios hosts American Red Cross hurricane relief efforts

PortCityDaily.com is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

The American Red Cross is utilizing EUE/Screen Gems Studios as a base for hurricane relief efforts in Eastern North Carolina. Courtesy photo provided by Screen Gems.
The American Red Cross is utilizing EUE/Screen Gems Studios as a base for hurricane relief efforts in Eastern North Carolina. (Courtesy photo provided by Screen Gems.)

WILMINGTON — They’ve been a hub for major TV and film productions such as “One Tree Hill” and “Iron Man 3,” but now, more than 400 volunteers from across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada are being hosted by EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, which is currently serving as the American Red Cross disaster relief operation district headquarters site for the Cape Fear area.

Red Cross relief efforts are expected to continue well into November or as long as needed, according to a release by the studio complex, which is located off North 23rd Street in Wilmington. Since Oct. 6, the 10-stage movie lot located on 50 acres of land has been a center for workers and mobilization efforts by the American Red Cross, which could take weeks, or months.

Red Cross disaster relief activities coordinated from EUE/Screen Gems Studios include:

  • Coordinating sheltering, feeding, and bulk distribution activities;
  • Coordinating disaster mental health and health services support for disaster clients;
  • Taking delivery of food, water, and relief supplies and staging these resources for distribution in affected communities;
  • Managing operational logistics;
  • Supplying vehicles and drivers for delivery of relief items;
  • Processing more than 400 volunteers from across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada through the center and assigning them to their positions on the relief operation.

Bill Vassar, executive vice president at EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, said hosting the logistics and operation of the Red Cross has been similar to servicing television or film productions, but the need and immediacy is heightened when lives are at stake.

“We have a long history of responding quickly to the needs of the film industry.” Vassar said. “In this scenario, our responsiveness is even more important, as lives are at stake and people need help in real time. This is important work and we will accommodate the Red Cross effort as long as the people of our area are in need. It’s what you do for your neighbors.”

The American Red Cross is utilizing EUE/Screen Gems 5,200 square foot support building for relief operations in the Cape Fear area, a building that’s traditionally used for catering. The Red Cross is also using the 35,000 square foot production space in stages seven, eight and nine for warehouse relief supplies.

In addition, the 50,000 square feet of parking space provides ample room for the continuous loading and unloading of relief supplies and accommodates 37 emergency response vehicles, 17 box trucks, up to five tractor-trailers, portable kitchens and parking for 400 volunteers.

Vicki LaBelle, executive director for the American Red Cross of the Cape Fear Area, began volunteering for the Red Cross as a child, according to the release. LaBelle has been a Red Cross executive since 2004 and has led the American Red Cross in the Cape Fear Area for the past decade.

The Red Cross response to Hurricane Matthew and its aftermath marks the largest disaster relief operation in the 53-county Eastern North Carolina region, including the Cape Fear Area in the time LaBelle has been here.

LaBelle says EUE/Screen Gems Studios is an ideal relief operation district headquarters site due to its proximity to the highway that provides ease of entry and exit for the fleet of Red Cross emergency relief vehicles as well as being close to the airport, which is an advantage for as out-of-state volunteers.

Red Cross support is still needed. Donations and support are critical at this time. To help the efforts, you can sign up to become a Red Cross volunteer or make a donation to help fund Hurricane Matthew Disaster Relief and relief from future disasters by logging onto the Red Cross website. You may also call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word MATTHEW to 90999, to make an automatic $10 donation to Hurricane Matthew relief.

Follow @RedCross on Twitter.

Headquartered in New York City and owned by the Cooney family, EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, opened in 1996 and has hosted more than 400 productions, including the soon-to-aired “Good Behavior” (TNT) and “Six” (History Channel) in early 2017. Other productions include “Under the Dome” (CBS) and “Sleepy Hollow” (Fox Television) and the largest production ever to shoot in North Carolina, “Iron Man 3.”

EUE/Screen Gems Studios is located at 1223 N. 23rd St. in Wilmington. The company also operates studio complexes in Atlanta and Miami. For more information about EUE/Sceen Gems visit its website.