21 Sep 2018 Disaster Relief? A Call To Action.
What an odd phrase, if you think about it: Disaster Relief. You can get relief from an itchy bug bite, or from a golf ball on a cart path, or even relief of certain types of debt. But relief from a disaster? It’s oddly inadequate to consider relief in those terms, especially when confronted with the images I’m sure you’ve all seen of towns like Wilmington and New Bern and Lumberton and Fayetteville and all the rest under several feet of water as a result of almost three feet of rain at the hands of Hurricane Florence.
I don’t have any way of tying all of that into sage advice about financial planning or investing, and frankly it would feel a bit cavalier to do so at this point. People have lost lives and livelihoods, they’ve seen their homes destroyed by floods and yet are most likely not covered by flood insurance, and for the many folks still reeling from Hurricane Matthew it’s all coming as a double helping of disaster.
So all I have for you today is a call to action. We may not be able to provide “relief,” but we can provide compassion and empathy–attempting to put ourselves firmly in the shoes of those who have been devastated by this storm and supporting them with our presence and resources. This is, after all, one of the reasons margin is so important in our lives: so that when disaster strikes others we have time and resources to generously give.
Many of you have donated time and goods and money already to organizations you’re plugged into. For those of you looking for ideas, the following are a few. Please note that with the exception of local organizations on the ground in the disaster areas who are asking for specific items (like diapers for instance) and have the infrastructure to deploy them, cash is king in these scenarios, because it allows knowledgeable decision makers to allocate resources more effectively and efficiently.
- The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is requesting donations of food and funds to help serve the counties hardest hit by Florence, many of which are among the poorest counties in the state to begin with. Its website has a page to donate funds. To donate food, visit one of the distribution centers in Durham, Raleigh, New Bern, Greenville, the Sandhills/Southern Pines or Wilmington. “The food bank is requesting high-protein canned meals, like meat, fish, beans and soup, paper goods like paper towels, cups, plates and napkins, diapers, personal hygiene products like soap, toothpaste and sanitizer, non perishable ready-to-eat single serving meals, snacks, peanut butter and cleaning supplies.”
- The North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund helps to coordinate the allocation of resources (both money and volunteers) to appropriate organizations on the ground.
- The Salvation Army is well adept at providing resources where they are needed most.
Lastly, while I hate this needs to be said, there are at least two significant cautions in the midst of post-disaster recovery:
- For those dealing with destruction of property and insurance claims. Please be careful of those posing as FEMA officials or claims adjusters, as well as disreputable contractors pressuring you into repairs before you have gone through the proper insurance claims channels. The North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has put out a few warnings which you can find here.
- For those donating cash and goods, please take care that you are giving those to organizations that have a reputation in the community for doing good, and watch out for those posing for those who are.
Thank you in advance for being good neighbors, and as Mr. Rogers encouraged us in times like these, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”