The Best Way To Help The Victims Of Hurricane Florence, According To FEMA

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The Best Way To Help The Victims Of Hurricane Florence, According To FEMA

Hurricane Florence has made landfall in North Carolina, leaving thousands of Americans in danger from what experts say may be the worst storm the area has seen in decades. Naturally, many Americans are wondering what's being done and what they can do to help.

For the last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been warning that flooding, high winds, power outages, and gasoline shortages were a risk for the area. On Friday afternoon, the Wilmington Police Department reported the first fatalities related to the storm after a tree fell on a house and killed a mother and her infant child inside.

Marty Bahamonde, the director of FEMA's Disaster Operations Division, spoke to A Plus about the actions FEMA took to prepare for the storm. Bahamonde explained that FEMA's work in past hurricanes has helped the agency better position and stock pre-staged commodity areas, so if people who are displaced need help, FEMA or other local agencies should be well-equipped to offer it.

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"We have places all across the  seaboard with commodities like food and water and cots and tarps," Bahamonde told A Plus. "North Carolina, South Carolina, they have strong emergency management agencies, so we're preparing to fill any gaps that they may have."

Meteorologist Ryan Maue predicted on Thursday that Hurricane Florence would dump as much as 18 gallons of rain — or as much water as there is in the Chesapeake Bay and enough to cover all of Texas with four inches of rain. Local officials continue to warn that the greatest threat will be a storm surge that is going to cause mass flooding across the Carolina coasts. 

For those looking to help, Bahamonde had some tips. 

If you're living in a state that's in the "fringe area" of need like Georgia or middle and northern Virginia, there will be shelters set up. Bahamonde said volunteers who step up at those shelters are crucial in providing care for the people who have been displaced from the Carolinas. For Americans not living near the storm or the people who have been affected, Bahamonde said the best thing to do is to donate to relief organizations.

Bahamonde insisted that well-intentioned people who want to donate food or clothing would be better off just donating money because it's incredibly difficult to ship and distribute things like clothes in the midst of a disaster. Instead, money that comes into organizations ensures they can keep providing relief where they are already active and prepares them for future disasters as well. If you live further away, picking up your pocketbook might be the best way to lend a hand.

If you want to help, you can go to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, or www.nvoad.org, which has a list of certified organizations participating in relief efforts for specific disasters. 

Cover image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

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