Have you been wondering what are the best ways to help Hurricane Florence victims? Me too. It’s one thing to say you are going to help, and another thing entirely to make sure that the “help” you offer is truly a blessing to those in need.
The smell of fish is what I remember most vividly. Rotten fish. Growing up, we lived a quarter mile through the woods to a small river that wove around our town. As the tornadoes approached our small town in 1990, we began to smell the fish in the air well before we saw the formation and headed for shelter. We “knew” what was coming. News reports were spreading the warning *before* we lost power. Thankfully, we had a basement that was dry and clean and ready. But you are never truly prepared for a natural disaster.
The smell of rotting fish lasted for days. But even worse than the lack of electricity and awful smell was the complete lack of clean water due to flooding and damage. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the most awful fact that 78 homes and a nursing home were destroyed and six lives were lost was the real horror.
In the hours after the storm, my 25-year-old brother was gently helping old ladies in wheel chairs out of a nursing home that was missing a wing. Precious old ladies who had faithfully attended our church for years. The people impacted by that tornado were the people we knew, and our little town spent weeks digging out of the rubble, and years rebuilding. The most precious help during those next few days was on-the-ground help. Debris clean up. Hot meals. I’ll never forget walking down the worst of the rows of houses on the morning after, staring at toilets exposed to the street. They were the only thing left.
That’s my experience with natural disaster, and let me tell you, it pales in comparison to the horrors of Hurricane Florence facing our friends in the Carolinas this week. I have real friends down there, and that helps me put a face on the impending doom.
Last year we were headed down to South Carolina to camp out in the backyard of our friends and watch the solar eclipse. This year, my kids told me to beg that family to just come stay with us to ride out Hurricane Florence in safety. We’ve spent hours watching the hurricane predictions and videos and live coverage together, to help my kids put context on their prayers.
We are praying for the people under mandatory evacuation – in cars with squalling kids, squirmy pets, crazy winds, steady rain and no hotel reservation. People who very well might not have a home to come back to seven days from now. We are also praying for the people who are choosing to stay home and brave the storm and all of the millions of people who will be impacted.
There is a face to this disaster, and it is the face of our friend, our elderly mom, our sister, our brother, our babies, and our puppy. This is about people who love and are deeply loved. Real people. And we need to be prepared to help.
What we’ve been wondering, and I am sure you’ve been wondering this too, is: What exactly are the best ways to help Hurricane Florence victims? While I remember the impact of the tornado when I was 16, sadly, I also remember the folks whose insurance companies wouldn’t help because the tornado was an “act of God.” And the folks who didn’t have insurance. And the missing buildings that forever changed the landscape of our Main Street.
Recovering from a natural disaster is hard on so many levels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer. Praying is important now and always. But as a people, we also need to find tangible ways to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Because it’s gonna be bad.
I chatted with a few friends of mine and asked them — what’s the best way to help?
#1 – Financial help is the best way to help Hurricane victims.
The resounding answer was financial help. The tricky part is finding which organization is going to be best at actually getting help to the people. Look for local, like-minded churches and organizations spear-heading fundraising efforts. Also of note: most people said DO NOT send clothing or your cast-offs. They don’t have the man power to sort through and distribute that stuff. People who’ve just survived a natural disaster often get inundated with YOUR JUNK. Please don’t do that.
Here are a few non-profit organizations with a proven track record for hurricane relief:
(This list comes directly from hurricane survivors who were direct witnesses and recipients of the aid provided by these organizations. We have no personal affiliation with any of these organizations.)
Help for Hurricane Florence Victims
Help for Hurricane Michael Victims
#2 – In-person help is the best way to help Hurricane victims.
Not everyone can just pack up and go down to North Carolina for a week or two, but the victims of Hurricane Florence are going to need manpower above all else, especially in the days immediately after they can return home. People who can remove debris, clean and sort, and repair. People with chain saws and tools. People who can bring in grills and charcoal and provide hot meals.
#3 – Food and supplies are the best way to help Hurricane victims.
Sending food and supplies is a great way to help! The biggest needs are listed below, as well as what not to send.
- gasoline (something you would need to take or send with someone going in person)
- propane (something you would need to take or send with someone going in person)
- chain saws
- bug spray (so much water for mosquito breeding!)
- cleaning supplies (mops, buckets, cleaners, sponges, detergents)
- non-perishable foods
- pet food
- hand sanitizer and wipes (Clorox, Lysol, Baby)
- dish soap
- clean rags
Nearly everyone reiterated that clothing is not the greatest need, and clothing will pour into the towns in abundance. I can remember after the tornado in our town, helping sort and organize the clothing that filled an entire basement of our church. It was a mess, and very few people came in with clothing needs. We weren’t even the only church in town with tons of clothing either. Shoes, on the other hand, might be in high demand because of all the muck associated with a hurricane and flooding.
Have you survived a hurricane and know the best ways to help?
Please share in the comments what the best help was that you received after a hurricane or natural disaster and what you recommend we do in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence! I’d love to have tons more truly helpful ideas from hurricane survivors.