RALEIGH, N.C. — While Hurricane Florence has decreased to a tropical depression, it is still churning up tornadoes and bringing record flooding throughout the affected areas.
Many volunteers and donations will be needed to help with cleanup and rebuilding efforts, so Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, has set up a website where information about disaster-relief assistance, volunteer efforts and donation links can be found.
“A disaster can be one of the most traumatic things a family can experience,” Daniel Altenau, director of disaster services for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Raleigh, told CNA.
“During this vulnerable time, our staff compassionately work with families to help them recover and persevere through this troubling time.”
Hurricane Florence rolled through North and South Carolina and the surrounding areas over the weekend, dumping rain that brought one of the deadliest parts of the storm — historic flooding — that is expected to last for days. As many as 32 deaths have been linked to the storm thus far, but officials have said the danger is far from over.
“Floodwaters continue to rise in some of the impacted areas and may not crest until Monday or Tuesday,” Altenau said.
“It won’t be until after the floodwaters recede that we are fully able to understand the damage of the storm. There are projections that some rivers may rise to higher levels than were experienced in Hurricane Matthew two years ago,” he added.
Catholic Charities staff are prepared to help families by providing groceries, diapers, food gift cards and cleanup supplies, as well as assistance with finding housing, Altenau said. Because Hurricane Florence swept through smaller towns that have fewer available apartments, finding housing after the storm could prove difficult for the displaced, of whom there are thousands.
As for volunteer opportunities, a primary need at the moment is for box truck drivers who can take supplies from a warehouse in Raleigh to impacted areas in eastern North Carolina, including Fayetteville and Wilmington.
Other volunteer opportunities can also be found at the Raleigh Catholic Charities website, along with a link to provide donations for disaster relief.
“Monetary donations are helpful because disasters are constantly changing events, and cash donations can be adapted to meet the varying needs of families impacted by Hurricane Florence,” Altenau said.
“Catholic Charities is working with local partner agencies to address the immediate needs of families across central and eastern North Carolina,” he added.
“Our staff are present in the community before an event, during an event and long after the event to assist families.”