Organizations offer opportunities to help Irma victims

Published 8:27 pm Monday, September 11, 2017

Eastern North Carolina dodged a bullet as the former Hurricane Irma turned west away from most of the state. Others were not so lucky, and organizations are offering advice on how residents here at home can help.

Hurricane Irma plowed through Florida this weekend and weakened to a tropical storm as the eye passed over southwestern Georgia. As of this morning, forecasts show Irma’s center hovering over northern Alabama.

The storm was predicted to clip western N.C. late Monday and today, as it turns westward, leading to higher winds and rain locally.

“Our thoughts are with those who have felt the direct impact of this storm, and North Carolina stands ready to provide support as needed,” Gov. Roy Cooper stated Monday.

The American Red Cross is now seeking volunteers to help the victims of Irma. Volunteer duties include: helping out at shelters; loading and unloading trucks; serving food; providing comfort; engaging with other volunteers; and helping to set up facilities, according to the Red Cross website.

The Red Cross opened five shelters for people and pets in North Carolina, and the closest one is located in Smithfield. These shelters will help evacuees coming from other states who are looking to wait out the storm.

Brittany Jennings, regional communications officer for the Red Cross, said Monday afternoon that it was too soon to tell where exactly volunteers will be needed. Jennings said Red Cross officials would likely have “better situational awareness” today.

Blood donations were also stunted due to forced blood drive cancellations in light of the weather. The Red Cross is asking for those in unaffected areas to continue donating blood, especially platelets and type O.

The Salvation Army is another organization rallying efforts to help victims of Hurricane Irma.

“Our food trucks are mobilized to feed thousands of victims and first responders. Our disaster relief team is setting up shelters for survivors to rest and recover. And we’re always there to lend a hand to help, a shoulder to cry on — to give a hug or words of hope — to pray with you and for everyone you love,” according to the Salvation Army.

The state’s National Guard is also at the ready to help with storm response activities, whether at home or in other states, according to a press release from the Office of Gov. Roy Cooper. North Carolina units have already been active in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the release stated.

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