The latest extreme weather event to batter the Southern states, Hurricane Florence began as a tropical storm off the coast of West Africa on September 1. It peaked as a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds last week before hitting landfall over Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, just east of Wilmington, on September 14. It’s now being called a tropical depression as of September 18. But don’t let the downgrade fool you.
Much like what happened with Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Florence was downgraded due to the winds and offered people a false sense of security, when in fact the water is what made both storms so deadly. This ferocious storm has claimed 37 lives to date (27 in North Carolina, eight in South Carolina, and two in Virginia), and it’s estimated to cost billions of dollars in damages. Towns in North Carolina have seen upwards of 30 inches of rain dumped on them in the past week. And Cape Fear River in Fayetteville, N.C. crested at a historic high Tuesday at 61.5 feet tall. As rising floodwaters continue to threaten residents of the Carolinas, 343,000 are still without electricity.
When disaster strikes, many want to help but don’t know how. Here, we’ve culled a list of how you can contribute.
Open your wallet
“Alexa, donate to Hurricane Florence disaster relief.” As perhaps the easiest way to donate, owners of the Amazon Echo can simply ask Alexa to donate, and the system will send money to the American Red Cross (provided you have payment info included in your Amazon profile with voice payment enabled). Since Hurricane Florence hit, the Red Cross has deployed more than 100 emergency response vehicles and 3,100 disaster workers to help provide clean water, hot meals, relief supplies and shelter to those affected by the natural disaster.
Donate With Google. Google is offering crisis relief by partnering with the Network for Good to raise funds for the American Red Cross. Google will match up to $1 million in contributions. If you don’t have a Google account, you can still donate by entering your credit card information using Google’s Guest Checkout.
American Red Cross. You can give directly to the American Red Cross online or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting “FLORENCE” to 90999. The American Red Cross is also reporting a shortage of local blood supplies in the Carolinas and Virginia; go online to find blood donation sites and to make an appointment.
World Hope International. The Virginia-based, Christian charity is collecting cash donations to help distribute food, water and supplies to the areas most affected by Florence. Monetary contributions are accepted via website or by calling 888-466-HOPE.
Foundation for the Carolinas. Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, this charity has set up the Hurricane Florence Response Fund to direct all donations to local nonprofits in North and South Carolina. According to its website, “Grants will be distributed to areas of greatest need once the full impact of the hurricane is realized.”
World Central Kitchen. Established by chef José Andrés after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, this organization has already prepared and delivered 80,000 meals to victims of Hurricane Florence. Visit the website to make a donation to help to its meal relief operation.
Donors Choose. Help teachers in schools that were hit hard by Florence to restock their classrooms after the storm with items like books, furniture, tech resources and other supplies, by giving monetary donations at DonorsChoose.org.
Several local shelters are offering to take in a surplus of animals that were affected by the storm, including Coastal Animal Rescue, a no-kill shelter in South Carolina that includes a veterinary clinic; Charleston Animal Society, which has already rescued 40 animals from Myrtle Beach; and Brother Wolf, which began setting up animals in foster homes before the storm. And numerous pet organizations in surrounding states, such as Northeast Ohio SPCA and Atlanta Humane Society, are accepting animals displaced by the flooding. You can contact each to offer donations for the transportation and care expenses or to inquire about adopting.
Hearts With Hands. During hurricane season, this Asheville, N.C.-based nonprofit secures volunteers to help throughout the region as needed. Visit the website to sign up to volunteer and to see the list of supplies needed for hurricane survivors, from food, clothing and bedding to paper and hygiene items and pet supplies.
Diaper Bank of North Carolina. The only statewide diaper bank in the state, DBNC distributes diapers and basic hygiene items to the impoverished year-round, at a rate of 200,000 diapers per month, and it partners with state emergency services in times of a disaster. The charity currently has an Amazon wish list posted, where people can purchase and donate diapers, underwear, and feminine hygiene items.
Feeding the Carolinas. An alliance with the NC State Association and SC State Association, Feeding the Carolinas accepts monetary and food donations at all nine local food banks in the Carolinas.
Lend a hand
North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund. In addition to cash donations, the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund is inviting volunteers to register online, as the organization will be actively providing relief for many months following this natural disaster. It will regularly post where volunteers can help as needs arise.
North Carolina has also created a list of Voluntary Organizations Active in a Disaster, which lists links of local groups accepting volunteer work in the aftermath of Florence.
United Way Association of South Carolina. Likewise, the response and recovery efforts in South Carolina are still being assessed. The local chapter of United Way asks potential volunteers to register at volunteerssc.org and to not self deploy, as unexpected volunteers can impede the efforts of first responders.