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Here's why and how to help hurricane victims in the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence is expected to make official landfall over the North Carolina coast by Friday, and to gain some insight into exactly what residents will go through, we spoke with an expert of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. Brenda Phillips is a highly awarded veteran of FEMA and the current Dean of L.A.S at IUSB. She has helped during several hurricane disasters including Katrina, and she believes that storm surge and flooding will have the worst impacts on the Carolinas.

In 2016, Hurricane Matthew slammed North and South Carolina with torrential rain and caused severe flooding which residents are still trying to recover from today. The same states now face the same worries as Florence brings rain, wind and storm surge over the next 72 hours at least. This is something that the infrastructure may not be able to handle.

According to Phillips, the American Civil Society of Engineers gave United States infrastructure a "D +" grade in 2017. Some roads and buildings may not stand a chance to Florence, and from Phillip’s perspective, "if the rain totals and the storm surge totals are correct, this could be a multi-year recovery, so I wouldn't be surprised to see some households, especially lower income households take 3-5 years to rebuild."

Many organizations including FEMA and volunteer groups from Michiana are already pre-positioned in the Carolinas in several locations where they will be able to safely store resources and then outsource as needed.

If you would like to help these people who will lose their homes and many of their irreplaceable belongings, Phillips says not to donate items, instead donate money.

"One of the best things people can do is to donate cash to an organization that they believe in. The worst they can do is gather up stuff and try to get it to a site. Places that have disasters are inundated by donations. It's often called the 2nd disaster. We can send money and organizations can spend it locally to get the economy going again and get people back to work," she explains.

Anyone can volunteer or donate to an organization of their choice by visiting the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website.


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