Local groups gear up for Hurricane Florence aid: Here’s how you can help

Volunteers from the region are already on the ground in states surrounding North Carolina in expectation for Hurricane Florence as it approaches the coastline.

Volunteers, water rescue workers, electric crews, mobile laundry units and emergency ice makers are part of how the region plans to chip in with the disaster response for what as of Wednesday afternoon was a Category 3 hurricane with winds near 125 mph.

The storm is projected to reach the Carolina coast by Friday and bring with it significant flooding and storm damage.

“Our team is ready to respond once the storm makes landfall and the track of the system becomes clear,” said Tim Mettey, CEO of Matthew 25: Ministries.

MORE: Hurricane Florence: Only 3 Category 4 hurricanes have made landfall in the Carolinas

The Blue Ash-based nonprofit provides humanitarian aid and disaster relief, helping organizations local to the disaster area.

The group said if local people want to get involved in aiding those affected by the hurricane, they can volunteer in Blue Ask sorting and preparing supplies to be shipped to the disaster area. The group is also taking donations of money and supplies.

Matthew 25’s fleet of disaster response vehicles are preparing for a possible deployment to the East Coast. The fleet includes mobile laundry units that can do up to 300 loads of laundry a day; an ice unit that can produce up to 10,000 pounds of ice a day; as well as two trucks with personal care and cleaning supplies.

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Two Ohio water rescue teams are getting into position to help in North Carolina. Ohio Task Force 1, a Kettering-based urban search and rescue team, first sent out a 16-person team called a “Water Rescue Package” and Wednesday morning a second team left.

The team is designed to be self sufficient, feeding themselves so not to strain the disaster relief effort on the ground.

About 30 volunteers from regional Red Cross chapters have left for the coast in anticipation of the hurricane and more are expected to leave. They are part of 700 Red Cross disaster workers around the country on their way to help.

MORE: Second Ohio Task Force 1 team deploys to N.C. ahead of Hurricane Florence

Four emergency response vehicles from the local Red Cross are also in route. They are setting up in Macon, Ga., which will be close enough to quickly respond but still out of the way of the storm, said Marita Salkowski, spokeswoman for the Red Cross Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Region.

Once the hurricane makes landfall the crews will be moved to where they are needed most, she said.

The emergency vehicles have full cargo storage for food, water, clothing, disaster relief supplies, and a serving window to better facilitate mass feeding.

“Our volunteers provide a variety of disaster relief services during hurricane response: shelter workers, mass feeding, bulk distribution of water and other emergency supplies,” Salkowski said. She said some of the volunteers include nurses, mental health workers, logistic experts, case workers.

The storm is not anticipated at this time to have an affect on Miami Valley weather. Storm Center 7 meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs said the Appalachian Mountains will help keep the storm system east and a high pressure system to the north will push the storm south.

How to aid disaster relief

The Red Cross is accepting donations online at redcross.org or by phone at 1-800-HELP NOW. The website also has volunteering information.

Matthew 25: Ministries is accepting volunteers six days a week at its Blue Ash office to evaluate, sort and process supplies for shipment.

The nonprofit is takes financial or in-kind donations. Checks can be mailed to 11060 Kenwood Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242 or money can be donated online.

Matthew 25 works with groups on the ground to supply what they need. The types of supplies tpyically needed include:

• Non-Perishable Food: pull-top canned goods, ready to eat dry goods such as nuts, peanut butter, dried fruits, granola and trail mixes, jerkies, ready to eat snacks; cases of bottled waters ready- to-eat meals.

• Personal Care Products: Antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, lotion.

• Cleaning supplies and paper products: Laundry detergents, general cleaner, sponges, bleach (powdered form is preferred), mops, scrub brushes, buckets, rubber gloves, toilet paper, paper towels

• Baby and infant supplies: Diapers, wipes, diaper rash ointment, baby wash, baby shampoo, baby lotion

• First-Aid items: Bandages, gauze, pads, first aid tape, antiseptic creams, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, latex gloves, instant cold packs

• Candles and flashlights: If necessary, please include the appropriate size batteries with any flashlight donation.

• Clean-up supplies: Protective eyewear, work gloves, masks, shovels, screwdrivers, saws, trash bags

For more information about giving or volunteering, contact (513) 793-6256 or www.m25m.org.

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