With the Carolinas still reeling from Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael has just begun to barrel down on the Florida panhandle with all its category 4 might. As of this afternoon (10/10/18), wind speeds have reached an excess of 155 miles per hour, making it the strongest hurricane to hit the US mainland since 1992. Preparations were made for those who decided not to evacuate. Evacuations were ordered by local municipalities, but as is always the case, many attempt to ride out the storm for various reasons. Some feel they need to protect their property in any way they can. Others simply don’t have anywhere else to go. Some counties have shelters designed to withstand the storm, while others do not and had to shuttle people to neighboring counties. As many as 118,789 homes are without power in the affected area, making up over a quarter of that coverage zone. Many homes are far worse off. Some of them have been completely submerged, while others have been destroyed entirely. So far, it is the panhandle near The Gulf of Mexico that has been hit the hardest, but even as far as 300 miles away, Tampa Bay is experiencing the effects of the storm. The path of the storm suggests that it will move into parts of Alabama and Georgia by 8 pm EDT Wednesday night. It will have moved its way through Georgia by Thursday morning with the eye missing the densely populated city of Atlanta directly, but still passing close enough to have a major effect. The rest of Thursday it is expected to move through the Carolinas, kicking them while they are down. To make matters worse, Charlotte is in the direct path of the storm. States of Emergency have been declared in expectation of dangerous winds and flooding.

Relief Efforts

As the hurricane is still very much a live event, there is only so much that can be done. Once the weather settles the real work can begin. Still, the National Guard and FEMA will likely have the most boots on the ground to try to help deal with the immediate concerns and get things ready for the process of rebuilding. As with Hurricane Florence, if you are looking to help, your dollars will probably be of the most help. GoFundMe has created a campaign exclusively dedicated to the relief effort. The lead relief agency in the area is Volunteer Florida. They are accepting donations as well as volunteers if you are in the area or interested in making the trip. In times of national calamity, The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army are both trusted institutions and organizations you can feel safe donating to. This is an important distinction because there are people who will take advantage of a tragedy and set up fake charities. If you read our blog on Hurricane Florence, it may seem like we’re repeating ourselves. However, it’s important that people know they have to be vigilant when it comes to relief donations. If you can’t give money, consider giving blood. In an environmental crisis, healthy blood is a precious commodity. Keep the South East of the country in your thoughts, this thing isn’t over yet.