Hurricane Florence, a massive storm on course to strike North and South Carolina, finally made landfall Friday morning. The slow-moving hurricane is currently pounding the Atlantic coast with 90 mph winds, widespread coastal flooding, and sheets of rain.
While we won’t know the full scope of Florence’s toll for days, the hurricane has already forced evacuations for millions of people along the coast and knocked out power for thousands. If you want to help those affected by Florence, Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that evaluates charities, has already compiled a list of “highly-rated organizations” planning to aid with recovery.
There are also other ways you can help people who will be rebuilding their lives in the wake of the hurricane, including donating to community groups that assist the most vulnerable populations and supporting verified GoFundMe fundraisers.
Here’s our list of ways you can help, which will be updated to reflect the ultimate scale of Florence’s devastation:
1. Donate to reputable nonprofits and charities.
Charity Navigator’s comprehensive list highlights organizations that focus on general aid and relief; medical services; animal care and services; financial relief for families; and, food hunger and relief.
Charity Navigator notes that, at this time, it’s unclear whether the featured organizations will spend donations made during Hurricane Florence specifically on storm relief. If you want to ensure your money will go toward aiding Florence survivors, contact the organization directly or look for an option to make that designation when you donate online.
Here’s an abbreviated list of some of the organizations working on Florence recovery: North Carolina Community Foundation, Brother’s Brother Foundation, Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, Save the Children, United Way of Alamance County, American Kidney Fund, Samaritan’s Purse, ForKids, Charleston Animal Society, and Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA.
2. Consider ways to help the most vulnerable communities.
The most vulnerable communities are often the most overlooked during a natural disaster. Expect for people with disabilities, senior citizens, and people with low incomes or experiencing homelessness to be the hardest hit by Florence.
Portlight Strategies, a nonprofit that focuses on disaster relief for older adults and people with disabilities, runs a hotline for those who have limited mobility yet need urgent or immediate assistance. The number is 1-800-626-4959. You can read more about the group’s Florence response here, and you can donate to their efforts here.
In addition to the local and regional organizations listed by Charity Navigator that help people in dire financial straits, you can consider donating to diaper and food banks that provide victims with day-to-day essentials. The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and Harvest Hope Food Bank are both recommended by Charity Navigator. The Diaper Bank of North Carolina is collecting diapers, wipes, and donations for Florence. The South Carolina Diaper Bank is accepting cash donations so that it can create disaster relief kits.
You can also make contributions to Army Emergency Relief, Air Force Aid Society, and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. Those organizations are included on Charity Navigator’s list and are providing Florence-related financial relief to current or former members of the military and their immediate family members.
3. Support GoFundMe campaigns.
You can support the official GoFundMe Hurricane Florence Relief fund here. GoFundMe has also created a hub where you can find verified campaigns or individual fundraisers for victims. The number and type of fundraisers will grow as Florence’s damage becomes clear.
#HurricaneFlorence is making its way toward the coast & those in its path are making preparations for potentially catastrophic rain. In anticipation of this historic storm, we’ve created a centralized hub for the verified GoFundMes helping those impacted. https://t.co/vsG5q76HKj
— GoFundMe (@gofundme) September 13, 2018
Finally, if you need guidance on deciding which cause to support amongst so many worthy aid and recovery efforts, consult Charity Navigator’s tips for how to give in a crisis. Those include giving money instead of material items, making long-term donations, and “reacting with intention.”