HOW TO HELP

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY KAREN ZRAICK NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SER­VICE

With Hur­ri­cane Florence caus­ing 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, find some guid­ance be­low, as well as 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 im­me­di­ate needs.

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 such as GuideS­tar, the Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau’s Wise Giv­ing Al­liance and Char­ity Watch per­form sim­i­lar re­views.

Art Taylor, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of BBB Wise Giv­ing Al­liance, ad­vises do­nat­ing to es­tab­lished re­lief groups that can dis­trib­ute aid safely and ef­fi­ciently.

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, such as send­ing your credit card num­ber by email. If you sus­pect that 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 also is 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 state asked res­i­dents seek­ing to help not to “self-de­ploy” in dis­as­ter zones, be­cause that could cre­ate an ad­di­tional bur­den for emer­gency work­ers.

Rather, of­fi­cials asked peo­ple to vol­un­teer with es­tab­lished or­ga­ni­za­tions and to bring food do­na­tions to lo­cal food banks or other char­i­ties.

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.

The hu­man­i­tar­ian group was also so­lic­it­ing vol­un­teers who were al­ready in the Caroli­nas and will­ing to work a six- to 12-hour shift.

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

Mary Sell­ers, the pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can di­vi­sion of the non­profit United Way, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion was pre­pared to help its lo­cal part­ners with dis­as­ter re­sponse — but also that peo­ple should think about the medium- and long-term ef­fects of Hur­ri­cane Florence. It’s a les­son the or­ga­ni­za­tion learned af­ter hur­ri­canes Irma, Maria and Harvey, she said. The group aims to make com­mu­ni­ties more re­silient so they can over­come the chal­lenges.

“Af­ter the im­me­di­ate cri­sis is over, there are lin­ger­ing is­sues that the com­mu­nity has to deal with,” she said. “You have in­creased men­tal health is­sues, af­ford­able hous­ing is­sues.”

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.

Sell­ers added that 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 now say “Alexa, make a do­na­tion to Hur­ri­cane Florence,” if you own one of its vir­tual as­sis­tants. The money will go to the Red Cross.

It’s the first time Alexa is be­ing used for dis­as­ter re­lief. 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.

GOFUNDME

The so­cial giv­ing plat­form set up a page for Hur­ri­cane Florencere­lated aid ef­forts, and it says all do­na­tions are pro­tected by its “GoFundMe Guar­an­tee, which means that in the rare case that 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.

GIV­ING TO THE CA­JUN NAVY

Nu­mer­ous vol­un­teer res­cue groups go by some vari­a­tion of Ca­jun Navy.

One reg­is­tered non­profit, Ca­jun Navy Re­lief, said its vol­un­teers, who in­clude boaters, EMTs and fire­fight­ers, have ex­ten­sive train­ing and have con­ducted res­cues in pre­vi­ous storms, such as Hur­ri­cane Harvey last year.

As Hur­ri­cane Florence ap­proached the Caroli­nas, the Ca­jun Navy Re­lief de­ployed to an area near Lumberton, North Carolina, with bass boats, air­boats and other ves­sels, said Josh Richard, a spokesman for the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The group has a PayPal ac­count for mon­e­tary do­na­tions, which are needed to fill fuel con­tain­ers and buy meals for boat teams and evac­uees, among other costs.

AN­I­MAL SHEL­TERS

Be­fore the storm hit, many lo­cal an­i­mal shel­ters scram­bled to trans­port their charges to safe lo­ca­tions, or to get them adopted.

The At­lanta Hu­mane So­ci­ety was car­ing for dozens of cats and dogs from Beau­fort, South Carolina, and rushed to get other an­i­mals in shel­ters on the Carolina coast out of harm’s way.

Af­ter Irma last year, the or­ga­ni­za­tion put up 1,000 an­i­mals in an emer­gency shel­ter, and if needed, it could re­open such a fa­cil­ity, said Christina Hill, a spokes­woman for the group.

That pro­tects an­i­mals in case shel­ters are dam­aged, and also frees up space for lost or dis­placed an­i­mals that come in af­ter the storm. (Shel­ters that reach ca­pac­ity are some­times forced to eu­th­a­nize an­i­mals af­ter nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.)

“We will take in as many an­i­mals as there’s a need for,” Hill said. The group is ask­ing for do­na­tions through Face­book, which will be matched by a pri­vate donor un­til Sept. 30.

The Charleston An­i­mal So­ci­ety, Amer­i­can Hu­mane and the Hu­mane So­ci­ety are among the or­ga­ni­za­tions run­ning sim­i­lar do­na­tion drives.

Shel­ters also were en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple out­side the stor­maf­fected ar­eas to foster or adopt. Some were waiv­ing or dis­count­ing fees.

AP PHOTO/CHRIS SE­WARD

New Bern/Greenville, N.C., swift wa­ter res­cue team mem­bers Brad John­son, left, and Steve Williams rest Satur­day af­ter search­ing for peo­ple stranded by flood­wa­ters in New Bern.

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