TRENTON, N.C. (WNCT) — Luana Gibbs, the interim health director of Hyde County, is still grieving the loss of her 23-year-old son in June.
“My baby Ryan and his girlfriend Sarah, maybe something good will come from our loss of them,” said Gibbs. “Maybe that’s the purpose, is that someone else will be saved.”
Ryan Gibbs, 23, and Sarah Reams, 16, died in June as the result of drug overdoses.
Two weeks after his death, Hyde County formed a task force including the Health Department, Manager’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office and more to combat the opioid epidemic.
“This is an epidemic not just in Hyde County, but the state and national, it’s an epidemic,” said Hyde County Sheriff Guire Cahoon. “Our forces have quite the dilemma of trying to remove these opioids from the county and the state and the nation. We certainly do need the cooperation from the community.”
The goal of the task force is prevention and education, so they are spending the next month holding public forums to find the best way to eradicate the issue.
“We can get feedback from constituents in regard to what they think they need to see, and like to see and their ideas to help,” said Kris Cahoon, Hyde County assistant manager. “We’ll come back to the drawing board with all that public feedback and come up with a plan of action.”
Gibbs said drug abuse can happen to anyone and hopes her son’s story, will motivate people to come together with the task force, and take back their community.
“I believe if we all stand together and continually work towards this, maybe things will change and there won’t be another parent to have to face this,” Gibbs said.
They are going to have community meetings in each of the five major Hyde County towns in the next month.
They started at Engelhard Wednesday night. Swan Quarter, Fairfield, Ponzer and Ocracoke are next in the coming weeks.
It’s also Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, and the Association of County Commissioners is encouraging all counties to hold forums during to discuss the issue.