On April 16, parts of North Carolina were hit by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, declared 18 counties in NC major disaster areas. Throughout the state, the storms killed 24 people and wounded 133. Over 6,000 homes and over 100 businesses were destroyed or damaged. In areas that depend on agriculture, there is so much debris in the fields that farmers are unable to plant. KateNC’s flickr album shows the type of devastation facing some of our neighbors in other parts of the state.
Two weeks later, recovery efforts are steadily moving forward, and there are lots of ways you can get involved. Volunteering is not only invaluable for the people you help, it’s great for your own health and well-being. (Check out The Health Benefits of Volunteering.)
1) Help friends and family in the disaster areas. If you have family or friends in the counties that FEMA has declared disaster areas,they can receive assistance from the federal government if they lost property or possessions that are not covered by insurance. Help them sort through the paperwork at http://www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm.
2) Volunteer your time. Many counties in North Carolina will need volunteers. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the NC Governor’s Hotline at 1-888-835-9966 to find out about volunteer opportunities. The hotline will be staffed daily from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
3) Donate money or hold a fundraiser. There are many private organizations that are accepting monetary donations. Community groups and churches in the affected areas are great places to donate, if you know of them. If you don’t have personal connections, two big places to donate are the N.C. Disaster Relief Fund and the Red Cross:
The NC Disaster Relief Fund is managed by the Governor’s office in partnership with the United Way of North Carolina. Donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of donated funds will go to survivors.
The North Carolina Red Cross provides people with shelter, meals, emotional support, casework, and supplies to help with recovery efforts. Since the storms hit on April 16th, more than 400 people have stayed in Red Cross shelters, over 80,000 hot meals have been served, and 1,344 clean up kits have been distributed.