One of the most powerful testaments to the human spirit is to see how, during times of crisis, we rise up, band together and dig into the work at hand. Just a few days ago we marked the 17th anniversary of 9/11. As traumatic an experience as that was, no one can forget the sense of responsibility we all felt to one another in the days immediately following that tragedy. Witnessing the swell of requests to help, and the power of volunteerism in action, in the wake of any natural or man-made disaster is a healing thing.
As Florence hits our shores our co-workers in the NC 2-1-1 call center help our neighbors find the resources they need as they navigate this new crisis. At the same time, we’ve also begun to get calls from people who want to help, who want to be a part of the recovery. United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County’s volunteer center is monitoring opportunities and will post them as they arise.
TOP THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT VOLUNTEERING DURING A CRISIS
- Safety is a priority. Do not go out, into harm's way, on your own or without proper guidance and training. If you go out on your own you increase dangers for emergency personnel who may need to rescue you. Hurricane Florence is still an active storm so there is no rebuilding happening yet. The only volunteers who should be on site are those working with highly trained and organized organizations like the state or the American Red Cross.
- For the most part, it is better to donate money than things. While there is always an exception to the rule, for most relief organizations, it is more difficult to store or move the random selection of items that people might donate than it is to purchase the items and quantities actually needed.
The best rule to follow - check with the organization to find out what they need (and definitely before dropping of unsolicited supplies). For a list of some major relief organizations visit this site.
- Remember that recovery is a long-term task. Hurricane Matthew hit NC 2 years ago and some communities were only beginning to rebuild. These same communities will be hardest hit as a result of Florence. Our human desire is to help in the immediate days following a disaster, and this is critical, but we also need to remember to sustain that desire for months, even years to come.
NEXT STEPS FOR THOSE THAT WANT TO HELP WITH CLEANUP FROM HURRICANE FLORENCE
- Call NC 2-1-1 to get the best listing of statewide requests for help. Just dial 2-1-1 or 1 888-892-1162 and ask for hurricane relief volunteer projects.
- We’ll also post any new/local relief and volunteer needs online. Just follow our volunteer center on Facebook @handsonashevillebuncombe or our main pages @unitedwayabc on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- Consider making donations to for long term relief to the community of your choice: