One of the most powerful storms to hit the United States slammed into the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane Oct. 10 before moving on to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.
After the hurricane hit, I was glued to the television, watching live news broadcasts showing the destruction. As I watched TV the next day, one Weather Channel broadcast on the aftermath of Hurricane Michael touched me emotionally.
Meteorologist Jim Cantore and his producer helped a Panama City woman named Melody, who didn’t have access to a cellphone, reconnect with her son Travis, a firefighter from Winter Park, Fla., to let him know she, his younger brother and dogs were all fine.
After some back and forth during the emotional on-air phone call, Travis received permission to drive to Panama City to help her clean up after the hurricane.
In addition to Hurricane Michael leaving behind a path of destruction, several deaths have been blamed on the hurricane, and many more people are still missing.
An Oct. 18 weather.com article “As Hurricane Michael Death Toll Rises, Hundreds Still Unaccounted for,” states, “One week after Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida panhandle, more than 1,000 people remain missing, a rescue organization said.
“At least 34 deaths have been blamed on the powerful storm — 24 in Florida, three in North Carolina, one in Georgia and six in Virginia.”
As a former resident of Florida, I have seen firsthand the destruction a hurricane can leave behind.
An Oct. 17 Federal Emergency Management Agency release titled “FEMA, Partners Helping Hurricane Michael Survivors,” states, “One week after Hurricane Michael hit Florida and Georgia, FEMA and other federal agencies are working alongside state and local responders and volunteers from national and local nonprofit organizations to aid survivors.
“In addition to the American Red Cross, numerous faith-based voluntary and nongovernmental agencies and the private sector are working to reach every survivor who needs help.”
Lehigh Valley residents can help Hurricane Michael survivors in Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia and Florida, the hardest-hit areas, by making a monetary donation to an organization or agency helping with the recovery efforts.
Monetary donations may be made to the American Red Cross at 1-800-435-7669 (online at redcross.org) or to the Salvation Army at 1-800-725-2769 (online at HelpSalvationArmy.org).
Gofundme has also set up accounts, at gofundme.com, where people can donate funds to help the survivors.
Make sure you know the organization you are donating to is a trusted organization where the majority of the money goes to the victims and not to the organization management or to a fraud.
An Oct. 19 FBI news release, titled “Bogus Charity Operator Sentenced: Fraudster Tricked Companies into Giving Him Matching Donations,” states, “Charity scams are sadly common, after high-profile disasters, such as hurricanes. The National Center for Disaster Fraud received more than 400 complaints of fraud after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last year. And in the recent wake of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, donors should remain vigilant about this type of fraud.”
According to the FBI, Georgia fraudster Kai Brockington took a “different — and rather lucrative — approach to charity fraud.
“Rather than stealing from individual givers, he convinced (or paid) people to lie to their employers about donating to his charity so he could pocket the matching funds provided by their companies,” the FBI stated.
Let’s all be smart about helping the survivors of Hurricane Michael, as Cantore did when he offered his cellphone to Melody so she could speak to her son.
Double check the organization to which you make a donation.