Current as of September 17, 2018
On Wednesday, September 12, Hurricane Florence was a Category 3 (previously a Category 4) storm in the Atlantic Ocean carrying sustained winds of up to 130 mph. [i] On Thursday, September 13, the storm was downgraded to a Category 2 and was then downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall on Friday, September 14[ii].
As of Monday, September 17, 31 deaths have been reported and tens of thousands of homes were damaged after record rainfall.[iii] More than one million people lost power, flash flood warnings remain in effect, especially in areas close to rivers that are rising and at risk of overflowing, more than 1,200 roads are closed, and evacuation orders are still being issued[iv]. The storm is forecasted to hit the Northeast over the next couple of days.
Figure 1: Anticipated Forecast, courtesy of The New York Times
A preliminary estimate from AccuWeather predicts the economic impact and damage of Hurricane Florence will approach $60B.[i] Another estimate from analytics firm, CoreLogic, predicts that the storm could cost $170B and damage nearly 759,000 homes and businesses, making it the costliest storm to ever hit the US in terms of property loss.[ii]
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 1 million people are under mandatory evacuation orders and even more are being urged to voluntarily evacuate at-risk areas.[iii] By Thursday, September 13, the number of evacuated people was around 1.5-1.7 million.
As the eye of the storm passed through North Carolina, several states US Armed Forces began conducting search-and-rescue missions by air and water. As of Monday, emergency responders and volunteers made about 1,000 rescues.
More than 1 million customers lost power, mostly in North Carolina, and thousands of people remain without power days later.[iv]
A Washington Post analysis reports that only 10 percent of residents in counties hit by Hurricane Florence have flood insurance.[v]
The Response – Government Agencies
Governors in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and the D.C. area have all declared states of emergency in preparation for Hurricane Florence. In addition to local evacuation orders, some governors, like the North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, have ordered the state’s first ever state-level mandatory evacuations for its barrier islands. North and South Carolina governors have both included the states’ National Guard in their emergency preparations, with 2,800 and 2,100 soldiers respectively and more on standby.[vi]
On Tuesday, September 11, Sen. Keff Merkley (D-OR) accused the Trump Administration of diverting funds for hurricane relief to support ICE detention centers just as hurricane season was starting.[vii] The Senator released a document showing the transfer of nearly $10M from FEMA’s budget to ICE. Homeland Security press secretary Tyler Houlton has denied that the transfer, which is less than 1% of FEMA’s overall budget, would take away from hurricane response and recovery appropriations, stating that the amount was taken from FEMA’s routine operating expenses. Former FEMA officials dispute this claim, arguing that the funds are critical to FEMA’s ability to be ready for hurricane season. [viii]
President Trump sparked new outrage over his refusal to accept any blame for the disastrous relief effort following Hurricane Maria that killed 3,000 Puerto Ricans and left the island 3.4 million residents without full power six months after the storm hit. On Twitter last week, Trump claimed that his administration “aced” emergency responses to Harvey and Irma and did an underappreciated job in Puerto Rico. He even went as far as disputing the number of deaths, claiming Democrats inflated the number to make him look bad.[ix] The President continued his attack on Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, instead of taking responsibility for the chaotic mismanagement of Hurricane Maria. [x] This comes after a tweet went viral showing images of millions of water bottles meant for victims of Hurricane Maria sitting untouched on a tarmac. President Trump has promised an all-out response to Hurricane Florence.
South Carolina officials received backlash for not evacuating at least 650 inmates from MacDougall Correctional Facility, a prison that is located in a county under mandatory evacuation orders. South Carolina has not evacuated any of its prisons during a hurricane since 1999, when the facility since was evacuated for Hurricane Floyd. Other surrounding states, such as Virginia and North Carolina have chosen to evacuate facilities in the Hurricane’s path. Many states have a history of abandoning inmates during devastating storms that resulted in chaos, escaped inmates, and inmates being locked in their cells for days with water as high as their chests. [xi]
The IRS is giving those affected by Hurricane Florence some tax relief. Taxpayers affected by the storm will have additional time to file their quarterly estimated income taxes, which would have been due on September 17. They will now have until January 31, 2019 to file and pay the applicable levies for that period. Furthermore, if people had a valid extension to file their 2017 taxes by October 15, the IRS will grant additional time to file.
Relief Organizations - National
Entertainment Industry Foundation – Music for Relief: Donate here The following organizations are currently active and on-the-ground proving aid to impacted communities and will receive initial funds donated to EIF / Music for Relief for Hurricane Florence:
Direct Relief: Providing medicine and supplies to those in need along the North Carolina coast and has shipped dozens of modules, essentially “pharmacies in a box”. They are also working with more than 200 healthcare partners on the ground to coordinate distribution channels and relief efforts. Direct Relief prepositioned medicine and supplies in extremely high-risk areas, knowing the need would be immense and critical. Each pack has supplies to treat 100 people for three to five days and contains a range of items, including antibiotics, pain relievers, inhalers, behavioral health medications, first-aid supplies, and medications for chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. They will continue to collaborate with health care partners to assist with medical needs.
Harvest Hope Food Bank: Designated as the lead food bank in South Carolina for disaster response, the organization is working closely with partner agencies including the Salvation Army and American Red Cross to supply evacuation shelters with much needed food and supplies. Harvest Hope has three locations in South Carolina and since many food banks and pantries have closed due to being situated within evacuation zones, they are filling the need. They are also providing food and supplies to soup kitchens and first responders.
Charleston Animal Society: The organization sent a team to Myrtle Beach on September 11, 2018 to evacuate 42 dogs out of harm’s way — and now other rescue efforts for shelters in the path of Hurricane Florence are being executed. The organization has a staff of around 100, supplemented by over 700 volunteers. They invested in a new trailer that cost around $65,0000 to come equipped with generators to keep the animals cool and comfortable — so they can transport 80-100 at-risk animals at a time.
Relief Organizations - Local
United Way of Central Carolinas: UW helps coordinate a community’s response to natural disasters, provides help to the most vulnerable, invests in communities’ first responders and helps rebuild communities in the aftermath of natural disasters. The UW Disaster Recovery Fund will help local United Ways meet the storm-related needs and support mid- and long-term recovery efforts throughout the affected regions. Click here to give to the larger relief fund.
United Way of North Carolina: Residents can call the UW Helpline at 211 for information on shelters and other forms of assistance. To donate specifically to North Carolina’s Hurricane Disaster Relief Effort, visit this link.
Governor Roy Cooper’s NC Disaster Relief Fund: The North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund is currently accepting contributions for Hurricane Florence damage. Contributions will help with immediate unmet needs of Hurricane Florence victims. Text Florence to 20222 or contribute online by visiting this webpage.
If you are unable to text or give online, you may mail your contribution to: North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund, 20312 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699
NC Community Foundation: The NCCF is the single statewide community foundation serving North Carolina and has made more than $130 million in grants since its inception in 1988. Created to ensure all of our citizens have access to philanthropic resources, they partner with a wide-range of affiliate foundation to provide local resource allocation and community assistance across the state, with a focus on rural areas. To donate to their Disaster Relief Fund, visit their website.
The United Way of South Carolina: 100% of individual donations given to the United Ways of South Carolina Hurricane Florence Recovery Fund will be distributed to local United Ways in the affected areas of our state. To donate, volunteer, and learn about more ways you can get involved, visit their online Hurricane Resource Center.
Foundation for the Carolinas: In anticipation of the effects of Hurricane Florence, Foundation For The Carolinas has established a relief fund to support those affected by the unprecedented storm. Donations to the Hurricane Florence Response Fund will be directed to nonprofits in North and South Carolina providing relief to victims of the storm. Grants will be distributed to areas of greatest need once the full impact of the hurricane is realized. Support the response to Hurricane Florence here.
Team Rubicon: Team Rubicon is an international veterans service organization founded by two former US Marines. Their veterans and first responders are already on the ground providing support to those impacted by Hurricane Florence. The organization has called upon 7,759 volunteers across those states to support relief efforts. To fuel their response, make a contribution on their website.
Habitat for Humanity: Habitat is engaged with its local organizations throughout the storm’s anticipated path, and is encouraging residents to prepare for the storm. This organization is focused on long-term recovery needs, especially because storms like Florence tend to most adversely impact the lower- income populations that Habitat serves. To donate and stay up to date on their response, read their latest press release here.
Suggested Social Media Posts
Text GIVE to 50555 to donate to @musicforrelief #HurricaneFlorence relief Fund
Text FLORENCE to 90999 to donate $10 to @RedCross and help provide direct services to #HurricaneFlorence victims
Want to help #HurricaneFlorence relief efforts? Start your own Facebook fundraiser on behalf of the United Way of North Carolina now or donate directly on their page here: https://www.facebook.com/UnitedWayofNorthCarolina/
The long road to recovery has just begun. Help North Carolina by texting Florence to 20222 and donate to NC Governor’s Disaster Relief Fund.
Companies and Brands
Airbnb: The home-sharing site has made its accommodations free for evacuees and disaster relief workers of Hurricane Florence in numerous Metropolitan areas across North Carolina (Charlotte and Greensboro), South Carolina (Columbia, Greenville and Spartanburg), Georgia (Atlanta and Augusta) and Virginia (Charlottesville), through its Open Homes Program. Evacuees and disaster relief workers and volunteers can find temporary accommodations with local Airbnb hosts who are opening their homes free of charge. As of Wednesday afternoon, September 12, over 350 hosts had opened their homes to those needing shelter. Offer your space or find a place to stay here.
Delta Air Lines: Up until September 17, flights through Charleston, Jacksonville, Myrtle Beach, New Bern, Newport News, Norfolk, Savannah and Wilmington are aiding evacuees. All baggage and pet fees will be waived for passengers.
Apple: Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted on Friday that his company will help in the Hurricane Florence Relief Efforts by donating $1M to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief.
Charter: Charter announced on Monday a $350,000 contribution to Rebuilding Together to support relief efforts and specifically assist with home repairs and renovations needed in areas impacted by Hurricane Florence. The company is also offering an additional $1 million in public service announcements to air at no cost to assist organizations with fundraising and awareness for disaster relief efforts. Charter has also opened 5,100 Spectrum WiFi hotspots across North and South Carolina to support the preparation and recovery efforts and will keep them open to all users until further notice. Additionally, the company will work to provide WiFi access to a number of shelters in impacted areas within its service area.
Chick-fil-A: A North Carolina Chick-fil-A broke with its famous policy of staying closed on Sundays to donate 500 sandwiches and 1,200 nuggets to three different shelters for people who were forced to evacuate their homes in coordination with the Red Cross.
Discover Financial Services: Discover will match donations dollar-for-dollar up to $500,000 for every cardmember who donates to the American Red Cross using Cashback Bonus®, or makes a donation with their Discover card. They are also matching employee donations to the American Red Cross dollar-for- dollar through its Employee Giving Program and is currently waiving transaction fees on all credit card donations to the American Red Cross.
Humana: Louisville health insurance company Humana Inc. is launching efforts to help communities in Hurricane Florence's path, including a $250,000 disaster relief grant from the Humana Foundation. The company has opened its toll-free crisis intervention hotline and counseling services to any individual who may need assistance in communities impacted by Florence. Talk to a work/life specialist available 24/7 at 1-888-673-1154 (TTY: 711).
Intercontinental Hotel Group (brands include Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Kimpton): This group of hotels and inns will waive cancellation fees and allow pets free of charge in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Florida and Washington D.C.
Lowes: The home improvement company has committed $2 million to support relief efforts for associates, customers and communities in response to Hurricane Florence's impact on the Southeast. Lowe's will continue to work closely with nonprofit partners and government agencies to determine immediate and long-term support needed by local communities. The Lowe's Emergency Command Center has expedited more than 2,800 truckloads of needed supplies, including generators, bottled water, sand, plywood, chainsaws, trash bags, gas cans and tarps to help with storm preparation and cleanup. Additionally, more than 400 associates, who have volunteered to be a part of Lowe's Employee Relief Teams, will deploy to areas hit hardest by Hurricane Florence. Their support will allow affected associates to focus on their families' recovery. Lowe's employs more than 10,000 people in areas impacted by the storm.
Marriott: Hotels throughout the area are waiving cancellation fees and relaxing pet rules, depending on the property.
NBA: Michael Jordan, the Charlotte Hornets and the NBA family are working together with a number of community organizations to provide necessary and immediate relief and support to those affected by Hurricane Florence. NBA Cares launched a platform to aid those most impacted and give direct donations to reputable organizations.
Tesla: The energy storage and vehicle company is unlocking full battery capacity on its base model 60- series cars and allowing customers in the path of the hurricane to use the Supercharger network for free, adding range on their electric cars.
UPS: The UPS Foundation committed $1M in support of recovery efforts following the devastating flooding, infrastructure damage and utility outages caused by Hurricane Florence. Through a combination of cash grants, in-kind transportation movements and technical expertise, the company and The UPS Foundation will provide both urgent relief, as well as support for long-term needs ranging from rebuilding to personal and financial recovery assistance.
U-Haul: U-Haul Companies across the Carolinas and Virginia are offering 30 days of free self-storage and U-Box container usage at 94 facilities to residents who stand to be impacted by the heavy rains and extreme winds associated with Hurricane Florence. Families needing more information about the 30 days free self-storage assistance should contact the nearest participating U-Haul store found here.
Wells Fargo: The Wells Fargo Foundation will donate $1 million to support hurricane relief efforts with $500,000 going to the American Red Cross and the remaining $500,000 to be disbursed in the coming weeks to non-profits located in affected communities. Wells Fargo customers nationwide who wish to support American Red Cross hurricane relief efforts may also donate through Wells Fargo ATMs or by redeeming any amount of available Go Far (R) Rewards for donation through September 28.