Monday, June 27, 2022

A month after Hurricane Florence struck the Cape Fear region, nonprofits still hard at work

There are still hundreds of people in need -- but, thankfully, there are also several organizations still coordinating and operating relief and recovery efforts.

SOUTHEAST N.C. — It has been a month since Hurricane Florance made landfall, and though the water has receded and life has gotten back to normal for many, massive piles of debris along the roadways serve as a constant reminder that there’s still a long way to go.

While government and federal first-responder organizations, such as FEMA, have contributed a large portion of the immediate aid, their resources are limited and it is up to the nonprofits in our community to fill the void. Local charitable efforts tend to be of a more specific nature, such as providing housing, food and mental health services.

Below is a roundup of a few of the organizations who are playing a crucial role in the ongoing recovery efforts and ways you can support those efforts.

The Harrelson Center

Volunteers of all ages, pitching in to assist after Hurricane Florence.Supplies being prepared for delivery at the Harrelson Center warehouse. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Harrelson Center)
Volunteers of all ages, pitching in to assist after Hurricane Florence.Supplies being prepared for delivery at the Harrelson Center warehouse. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Harrelson Center)

The Harrelson Center (THC) is a North Carolina nonprofit corporation that supports and partners with other nonprofit organizations in the Wilmington community.

“We are a humanitarian services campus working with many at or below the poverty line and they have become the most vulnerable due to Florence. The needs are great and the long-term recovery will be challenging. We are positioned well to help meet those who are in need of hope and we will find them if they don’t find us,” according to Meade Van Pelt, executive director of The Harrelson Center

THC began mobilizing staff, volunteers, and supplies Monday following the storm, planning alongside disaster relief expert and Executive Director of Catholic Charities Emilie Hart. Within a week, they were granted a warehouse within four blocks of the Center and that site became ground zero for the collection and distribution of supplies such as food, water and cleaning supplies. Through Help Hub, a collaboration of local churches and Partner friends, immediate financial assistance was provided for persons and families in need.

Approximately 1,300 volunteers and their full-time staff of 8 have worked side by side to fulfill the needs of approximately 5,000 neighbors in New Hanover and the surrounding five counties.

THC estimates that 200 families will require significant rehousing and utility assistance moving forward and are actively raising funds through private donors and corporations to meet these needs. THC’s Help Hub has expanded operations, adding more advisers to meet with neighbors, provide emergency financial assistance for rent and utilities, and connect with more resources, including local nonprofits, churches, and county and FEMA resources.

Find out how you can help The Harrelson Center help others here:

  • Requested items:
  • Shockwave (all-purpose cleaner)
  • Gallon plastic bags
  • Laundry Detergent Pods
  • Mosquito Deterrents-spray, dunks, and wipes
  • Sponge Mops
  • New sheets
  • New pillows
  • Air mattresses
  • Plastic Storage Bins
  • Walmart $25 Gift cards

Drop-offs can be made Monday – Friday at 921 Princess St., Noon -2 p.m.

Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

For nearly 40 years, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina has been providing food and non-food essentials to those who deal with day-to-day food insecurity as well as responding to disasters like Florence. The Food Bank serves a network of more than 800 partner agencies such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and programs for children and adults through 6 branches in Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, Sandhills (Southern Pines), and Wilmington.

“We know that in our 34-county service area, more than 600,000 of our friends and neighbors were living in food insecure households, which means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. 1 in 4 of these are children. While we can’t put a number on the impact that Florence has had, 22 of our 34 counties officially declared federal disaster areas and we’re serving 26 counties with disaster relief food and supplies,” according to Jennifer Caslin, marketing and project manager, Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.

The Food Bank began preparing prior to Florence making landfall by stocking their nonprofit partners with food and non-food essentials. Following the storm, they partnered with the Cajun Navy and World Central Kitchen and together they distributed 2.2 million meals (this is equal to 2.6 million pounds of food and supplies) into affected communities. A total of 22 out of the 34 counties served by the food bank officially declared federal disaster areas and the organizing is still providing 26 counties with disaster relief food and supplies. Approximately 8,400 disaster relief boxes were prepared for families in need.

A total of 100 staff members and volunteers, in addition to 15 additional staff members from the Feeding America national network, as well as sister food banks in Charlotte and Asheville, worked together to meet the needs of the community in the immediate aftermath of Florence.

While shelters and community meal sites are beginning to close, people are still displaced throughout the 34 counties the Food Bank serves, and the Food Bank will continue their work providing food, hygiene items, and cleaning supplies.

Ways you can help: A $10 donation provides 50 meals to neighbors in need. Gifts can be made online here.

If you or anyone you know needs help, please visit www.foodbankcenc.org/florencehelp to find information on resources and services available.

Cape Fear Volunteer Center

All ages were welcome at World Central Kitchen to contribute to the overall effort to feed first responders, linemen, volunteers and residents. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Cape Fear Volunteer Center)
All ages were welcome at World Central Kitchen to contribute to the overall effort to feed first responders, linemen, volunteers, and residents. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Cape Fear Volunteer Center)

For fifteen years the Cape Fear Volunteer Center (CFVC) has matched volunteers with meaningful service opportunities in the Cape Fear region.

Immediately following Hurricane Florence’s landfall CFVC began matching volunteers with the initial efforts to feed Wilmington, providing volunteers to World Central Kitchen, and Operation BBQ Relief. Over 500 volunteers were sent out to each organization.

In all, over 1,000 volunteers, many of whom were new to the organization, stepped up to help in the aftermath of Florence. Volunteers assisted in a variety of ways, some mucked out homes, delivered food to work crews repairing lines and removing fallen trees, and others helped evacuees move out of condemned apartment complexes.

“Volunteers do all the heavy lifting and we provide a structure and a game plan, then the volunteers make it happen. We are still connecting volunteers with opportunities, and agencies with each other to further enhance their capacity. It’s a beautiful thing,” according to CFVC CEO and Director Annie M. Anthony.

Moving forward, CFVC will require volunteers to work with a number of organizations like Hands On Network/Points of Light Foundation Affiliates which will undertake the grueling task of rebuilding in New Hanover County and the three surrounding counties. Donations are needed as well to pay for things like moving trucks to assist families in need.

There are a number of ways you can help CFVC, fill out the volunteer registration form at or donate money at its website, which you can find here. Or, you could do something as simple as baking cookies to brighten someone’s day. No effort is too small as all skills are needed at this time.

North Carolina Community Foundation

The North Carolina Community Foundation (NCCF) is the lone statewide community foundation serving North Carolina and has administered more than $130 million in grants since its inception in 1988. With nearly $247 million in assets, NCCF sustains 1,200 endowments established to provide long-term support of a broad range of community needs, nonprofit organizations, institutions, and scholarships.

NCCF partners with a network of affiliate foundations to provide local resource allocation and community assistance across the state. An important component of NCCF’s mission is to ensure that rural philanthropy has a voice at local, regional and national levels.

As Florence approached, NCCF immediately reactivated the NCCF Disaster Relief Fund. The NCCF Disaster Relief Fund will support nonprofits offering programs that help hurricane victims in our state. All funds raised for the NCCF Disaster Relief Fund will go directly to nonprofit organizations serving the needs in the impacted areas of North Carolina. No portion of the funds raised will be used for the Foundation’s administrative or operating expenses. The Foundation will also encourage this practice among local recipient agencies.

“The North Carolina Community Foundation does not generally fund immediate recovery efforts but focus on long-term, unmet needs. To provide some perspective, we were still sending out grants to Hurricane Matthew victims the week that Florence hit. Matthew hit N.C. in 2016,” according to Director of Communications and Marketing Noël McLaughlin.

The NCCF staff, statewide grants committee and affiliate advisory board members in all the eastern North Carolina counties are involved in the long-term relief efforts. They are currently assessing the needs and damage and will begin allocating grants as unmet needs emerge.

You can help by donating at the NCCF website, found here.

100% of all donations goes back to support nonprofit organizations that service Florence victims and communities.

Nonprofit organizations that serve unmet, long-term needs should contact NCCF’s regional directors serving that particular area; statewide organizations should contact the NCCF director of grants, Leslie Ann Jackson at lajackson@nccommunityfoundation.org.

“Hurricane Florence has already been labeled among the costliest storms in history, and the full extent of the subsequent flooding is still unknown,” NCCF CEO and President Jennifer Tolle Whiteside said. “Our affiliate foundations and statewide grants committee know our state and its communities and will ensure that donations to the NCCF Disaster Relief Fund are effectively granted to nonprofits that can best serve the needs in North Carolina.”

As with any charitable donations, do your due diligence and check them out before giving using any of these free online tools: Guidestar, Charity Navigator or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

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