Locals among those being sent to storm ravaged south

Although the effects of Hurricane Florence still are being felt through the Carolinas and parts of Virginia, 38 volunteers from the 50-county region of the local American Red Cross have been deployed to help with housing and sheltering the victims of the natural disaster.

“The first priority is making sure everybody has a safe place to sleep,” said Dan Tobin, director of marketing and communications for the group.

In response to the needs in that area, Tobin said the Red Cross is seeking monetary donations through their website at redcross.org. Donations may also be made at the local office and designated either for hurricane Florence or general disaster. He emphasized the Red Cross is not collecting goods.

The volunteers who have been dispatched to the flooded areas along the East coast are working to provide housing for those displaced by the rising water, but, according to Tobin, the needs will change as time passes.

“As the shelter numbers go down,” he said, “the type of volunteers needed will switch.”

The next group of volunteers will be involved with mass distribution of food and cleaning items, Tobin said. Caseworkers also will be deployed to work with families to meet their special needs, such as health and mental health.

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank also is involved with helping the victims of Hurricane Florence through disaster preparedness, recovery and support, Dan Arthur, executive director of the food bank, said.

“We do that locally, but we also do that in partnership with our national affiliate, Feeding America. We have brother and sister food banks in the region in the Carolinas and surrounding states that are actually waiting to respond right now,” he said.

Arthur noted the food bank has an abundance of ready-to-eat food which is helpful in disasters. He said 10 truckloads of snack type food have been set aside waiting for the all clear to ship it down to the Carolinas.

On a local level, the food bank works with a network of partners and other non-profits such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, according to Carla Fisher, marketing and communications coordinator at the local site.

“There are more than 1,000 soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and social programs within the 27 counties the food bank serves,” she said.

She noted if anyone locally has been affected by flooding and needs assistance, they can go to the food bank’s website, www.centralpafoodbank.org to locate assistance nearby.