Volunteer boaters were fanning out across eastern North Carolina Saturday to rescue people stranded by Hurricane Florence. Kevin Knox had two young children at his New Bern home and was happy to see the burly men pull up at his front porch. (Sept. 15)
As Florence continued its slow, perilous plod across the Carolinas – dumping torrents of rain that could lead to days of devastating floods – charities and aid groups are kicking into high gear.
The tropical storm, which was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane after it made landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, on Friday, swamped some coastal communities, left thousands without power, killed at least eight people and led to dozens of water rescues.
But authorities fear the devastation could get worse as the storm moves inland, pushing rivers and creeks to record levels that could trigger epic flooding. Relief groups, which pre-staged on the ground in North and South Carolina, say they are ready.
Here is a list of some of the groups responding to the disaster and ways you can help:
The American Red Cross is providing food and shelter to evacuees in multiple states. The group has mobilized 140 emergency response vehicles and more than 120 trailers of equipment and supplies. More than 150 blood drives in the storm’s path have been canceled through early next week, so the Red Cross is appealing for people to also donate blood.
United Way Worldwide has created a Hurricane Florence Recovery Fund to provide a single clearinghouse for individual and corporate donors to support communities in the storm’s path. United Way also offers a free 24/7 hotline – 211 – for people seeking shelter, food and water and other basic needs before, during and after the storm. Florence updates are also available by texting FLORENCE to 898-211.
World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, has staff on the ground in the Carolinas and has shipped six truckloads of relief supplies to be delivered through local church and community partners to reach at least 9,000 people. The supplies include food, clean water, personal hygiene items, diapers and flood cleanup kits.
Americares, a global health organization, is partnering with health clinics in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to deliver emergency medicines and relief supplies, including aid for displaced families.
Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid group, is deploying teams of staff and volunteers in two hard-hit areas in North Carolina – New Bern and Wilmington – to help homeowners with cleanup, such as tarping roofs and clearing yards of debris.
The Salvation Army has more than 50 mobile feeding units positioned along the coast of the Carolinas. The group is sending food to evacuation shelters as well as feeding first responders.
Save the Children, an international children’s agency, has a team on the ground in North Carolina that will focus on the needs of young people during and after the storm such as setting up child-friendly spaces in evacuation shelters.
Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization, is working with Team Rubicon – a U.S.-based group that unites military veterans and first responders – to assess the most pressing needs in the Carolinas. Mercy Corps anticipates providing cash assistance to the most hard-hit communities so people can purchase what they need for recovery.
The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, a safety-net group that provides medical, dental and pharmacy services, is helping people access health care, medications and supplies during the disaster. Fifteen clinics in North Carolina and 14 in South Carolina were in the path of the storm, the group says.
The Humane Society of the United States is helping animals escape the storm. Working with partners, the group says it has helped more than 400 adoptable cats and dogs get out of shelters in Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The animal rescue team is also ready to deploy for search and rescues in hard-hit areas.
Charity Navigator, an independent watchdog that appraises charities based on their tax filings, lists these groups responding to Florence that hold a three- or four-star rating. You can find the list here. The group advises people to research relief organizations before making a donation.
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