Help­ing: Makeshift flotilla saves hun­dreds. Also, how to help the storm re­cov­ery,

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Karen Zraick

With Hur­ri­cane Florence caus­ing heavy flood­ing and wind dam­age in the Caroli­nas, res­i­dents will face the ar­du­ous task of clean­ing up, re­pair­ing and re­build­ing homes and busi­nesses.

If you want to help, we of­fer some guid­ance be­low, and a list of a few of the or­ga­ni­za­tions in­volved in re­cov­ery ef­forts.

First, keep in mind ...

Send­ing money is al­most al­ways the most ef­fi­cient way to help in a dis­as­ter, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Dis­as­ter In­for­ma­tion, part of the U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment. Oth­er­wise, valu­able time might be lost sort­ing through a moun­tain of do­nated goods that do not serve peo­ple’s im­me­di­ate needs.

Of course, be­fore you do­nate any­thing, it’s im­por­tant to do a lit­tle re­search about an or­ga­ni­za­tion’s his­tory and rep­u­ta­tion. One way to do so is by check­ing Char­ity Nav­i­ga­tor, which grades es­tab­lished char­i­ties based on trans­parency and fi­nan­cial health.

Other sites like GuideS­tar, the Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau’s Wise Giv­ing Al­liance and Char­ity Watch per­form sim­i­lar re­views.

And a word to the wise: At­tempted fraud some­times oc­curs af­ter dis­as­ters. The best ad­vice is to check out or­ga­ni­za­tions on­line and de­cline risky re­quests, like send­ing your credit card num­ber by email. If you sus­pect an or­ga­ni­za­tion or in­di­vid­ual is en­gag­ing in fraud, you can re­port it to the Na­tional Cen­ter for Dis­as­ter Fraud.

Carolina-based re­lief ef­forts

Michael Jor­dan, who owns the Char­lotte Hor­nets and grew up in Wilm­ing­ton, North Carolina, which was hit hard by the storm, set up a mi­crosite to di­rect do­na­tions to rep­utable or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“The re­cov­ery ef­fort will be mas­sive, and it will take a long time to re­pair the dam­age and for fam­i­lies to get back on their feet,” Jor­dan said in a state­ment.

The Di­a­per Bank of North Carolina, based in Durham, is col­lect­ing do­na­tions for di­a­pers and fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts for peo­ple dis­placed by the storm. (You can also buy items on the group’s Ama­zon wish list.)

The or­ga­ni­za­tion is also ask­ing for vol­un­teers and do­na­tions of di­a­pers, wipes and san­i­tary pads.

And Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina an­nounced the state it­self was ac­cept­ing do­na­tions to help meet the im­me­di­ate needs of peo­ple af­fected by the hur­ri­cane. You can con­trib­ute on­line or by tex­ting FLORENCE to 20222.

South Carolina is so­lic­it­ing do­na­tions for the One SC Fund, which sup­ports non­prof­its that help state res­i­dents re­cover from nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

The Red Cross

The Red Cross had pre­pared to help as many as 100,000 peo­ple across the re­gion and sent out equip­ment and sup­plies, in­clud­ing ve­hi­cles, meals and cleanup kits.

You can do­nate to the group on­line, or by call­ing 1-800-RED-CROSS or tex­ting “RED CROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 dona­tion. Google is match­ing do­na­tions up to $1 mil­lion.

And it’s ask­ing peo­ple any­where in the United States to con­sider do­nat­ing blood. The Red Cross keeps a blood sup­ply on hand to re­spond to emer­gen­cies, but it’s per­ish­able, and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in­ter­fere with col­lec­tions in the af­fected ar­eas.

United Way

The or­ga­ni­za­tion is ask­ing for do­na­tions to its Hur­ri­cane Florence Re­cov­ery Fund, which will dis­trib­ute 100 per­cent of in­di­vid­ual do­na­tions to lo­cal United Way groups to fo­cus on mid- and long-term re­cov­ery ef­forts in the Caroli­nas, Vir­ginia, parts of Ge­or­gia and Mary­land and other af­fected ar­eas.

Peo­ple af­fected by the storm — or in­quir­ing about how to help — could call the help line 211 (or text 898211, or visit on­line) for in­for­ma­tion about lo­cal con­di­tions and ser­vices in dozens of lan­guages.

Through tech com­pa­nies

Ama­zon an­nounced you can say “Alexa, make a dona­tion to Hur­ri­cane Florence,” if you own one of its vir­tual as­sis­tants. The money will go to the Red Cross.

You can also do­nate to the Red Cross and Feed­ing Amer­ica on Ama­zon’s site.

Face­book ac­ti­vated its Safety Check fea­ture and a Cri­sis Re­sponse page where peo­ple can post of­fers or re­quests for help.

It also en­abled in-app do­na­tions to Glob­alGiv­ing, a non­profit that re­dis­tributes funds to vet­ted, lo­cally fo­cused groups.


The so­cial-giv­ing plat­form set up a page for Hur­ri­cane Florence-re­lated aid ef­forts, and it says all do­na­tions are pro­tected by its “GoFundMe Guar­an­tee, which means in the rare case GoFundMe, law en­force­ment or a user finds cam­paigns are mis­used, donors and ben­e­fi­cia­ries are pro­tected.”

One of the dis­as­ter-re­sponse or­ga­ni­za­tions is Task Force 75, a vol­un­teer group of veter­ans and oth­ers formed last year to help with res­cues, first aid and hu­man­i­tar­ian aid.

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