3 minute readDisaster
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Hurricane Florence: Your Top Questions Answered

View of Wilmington, North Carolina over the water.
Historic downtown in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross.

Since Hurricane Florence made landfall off the coast of North Carolina on Friday, September 14, we have seen an outpouring of generosity and support from all over the country. Thousands of people have selflessly donated their time and money to help those living in the affected areas. But with every disaster comes questions, concerns and false information. To provide you with the accurate information you need to keep your loved ones safe, we’ve compiled a list of common questions and concerns below. We hope you’ll help us share this information far and wide to help as many people as possible.

I’ve decided to evacuate my home. Where can I find shelter?

We are currently providing safe shelter and comfort for evacuees. To find an open Red Cross shelter, you can visit redcross.org/shelters, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or download the free Red Cross Emergency App.

Claudia Martinez sitting on a cot with her son wrapped in a blanket.
Claudia Martinez and her son at a shelter in Wilson, North Carolina. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross.

But I heard you don’t allow pets in your shelters…

For the well-being of our shelter residents who have pet allergies, asthma, and other health issues, there often needs to be physical space between animals and people. The only exception to this are service animals for people with disabilities because they aren’t considered pets.

BUT, we don’t expect you to leave your pets at home and we don’t want you to because like you, we view pets as family members. That’s why we work with partner organizations to make sure you have a safe place for your pets to stay. And these organizations make every effort to provide pet shelters close to our shelters so you can visit your furry friends frequently.

Pet-friendly shelters can be found in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Here are tips to help you prepare your pets for an emergency evacuation and help them recover afterward.

I’m collecting food and items for those affected by the storm. Where should I send them?

We can’t thank you enough for your generosity, but honestly sometimes these items can do more harm than good.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at this…

A large pile of in-kind donations in a shelter in Texas.
A photo from Texas in 2017 by Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP.

Yes, this picture is real, and this did happen.

Our first priority is the safety and well-being of those affected by disasters. The reality is that it takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items. These things take time and resources away from the people who need them most. And unfortunately, some well-intentioned donations of clothing or other items may be inadvertently soiled or dirty, which can cause illness. However, we might accept large, bulk donations of new items if they fit the needs of those affected in a specific area.

The best way to help during a disaster like this is with financial donations because they allow us to be flexible to give those directly impacted by Tropical Storm Florence what they need most. Financial donations can be used right away to replace items like medicine or a pair of glasses.

You can visit nvoad.org to find organizations that do accept donations of material goods.

How Can I Be Sure That the Money I Donate Will Go Directly to Florence Victims?

You can sleep a little better at night knowing that we will honor your donor intent. You can designate your donation to Florence relief efforts by choosing that option when donating on redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word FLORENCE to 90999 to make a $10 donation. And while we’re on the topic, we want you to know that an average of 91 cents of each dollar spent is on shelter, food, relief items, health and emotional support and financial assistance, as well as logistics and support needed for our volunteers to help those affected.

Are there other ways for me to help? How about volunteering?

Claudia speaking to a Red Cross volunteer in a shelter in North Carolina.
Claudia speaking with a Red Cross volunteer. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross.

We’d love to have you join us and we appreciate your willingness to help. Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more about Red Cross volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.

You can also find other volunteer opportunities at nvoad.org.