National News

Catholic Charities Provides Aid to Carolinas Following Florence

Oliver Kelly, age 1, cries as he is carried off a sheriff’s airboat in Leland, N.C., during his Sept. 17 rescue from rising floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. The storm, now a tropical depression, is poised to affect more than 10 million the week of Sept. 17. (Photo: Catholic News Service/Jonathan Drake, Reuters)

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) – The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. 14. And although the storm was downgraded from a hurricane to a Category 1 tropical storm, it still caused extensive water damage.

At least 24 people died in storm-related incidents, tens of thousands of homes were damaged and about 500,000 homes and businesses were still without power Sept. 17.

Prior to the storm, Catholic Charities of South Carolina was preparing to help those in need. Kelly Kaminski, director of disaster services for Catholic Charities, said the agency activated its Emergency Operations Center and disaster services team Sept. 10 and had been coordinating with county emergency management teams, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Catholic Charities USA.

It has been working with local partners to have water, cleaning supplies, baby items and other needed supplies readily available in areas along the coast.

Catholic Charities USA has set up its website donation page and text-to-give platform to help individuals and families impacted by Hurricane Florence. As it did in response to last year’s hurricanes, the agency forwards 100 percent of funds raised to the local Catholic Charities agencies that serve the affected communities. Those wishing to donate can text CCUSADISASTER to 71777 or call 800-919-9338.

“We are praying for those affected by the storm,” said Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. “Unfortunately, those most impacted by natural disasters are the individuals and families who are already struggling to make ends meet.

“But thanks to the generosity of our donors, the most vulnerable have their immediate needs met and the long-term recovery support they need to rebuild their lives,” she said in a statement.

Catholic Charities USA said its staff members are prepared to deploy to local agencies that may need additional support. Its mobile response unit also is standing by to be sent to the region. The vehicle can be packed with nonperishable food items, health and hygiene kits and bottled water, all of which are ready for distribution. A trailer connected to the vehicle contains a washer and dryer that will allow survivors to clean their clothes. The mobile response unit also can be used as a field office.

Daniel Altenau, director of communications and disaster services for Catholic Charities in Raleigh, said a disaster of this nature can be one of the most traumatic things a family can experience.

“We are working with local partner agencies to address the immediate needs of families across central and eastern North Carolina,” he said.

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