Hurricane Florence is barreling towards the East Coast and may be one of the worst storms in recent memory. Residents of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate their homes, and thousands of others could experience intense flooding and wind damage over the weekend.

The next few weeks are going to be tough on the eastern seaboard. But Americans excel at banding together in difficult times to help each other out. We’ve been great at uniting as a community to fix problems for as long as we’ve been a nation.

When Alexis de Tocqueville visited the still-young United States in 1831, he was struck by Americans’ use of “associations” – groups who came together under a common cause. When he wrote about his observations in Democracy in America, he said “I have often seen Americans make great and real sacrifices to the public welfare; and I have noticed a hundred instances in which they hardly ever failed to lend faithful support to one another.”

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and Americans have kept up this tradition. We donated billions of dollars to help those effected by September 11. We volunteered weeks of time to clean up Joplin, Missouri after a devasting tornado. We opened our homes and communities to those displaced by Hurricanes Katrina.

Take, for example, the “Cajun Navy.” This group of Louisianans stepped up to help those effected by Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey using the most immediate resources they had – boats. Members of the Cajun Navy used their personal boats to travel down flooded streets to rescue thousands of people. Right now, they’re packing up their boats and supplies and are heading north to assist in the Hurricane Florence relief efforts. The Cajun Navy is just one of many groups who realized they had the right tools at exactly the right time to help their neighbors.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation has also found ways to help our communities following natural disasters. In 2017, volunteers in Louisiana prepared a storage unit with disaster supplies so they would be ready when a hurricane hit the area. Shortly after the supplies were delivered, Hurricane Harvey came through. Volunteers were able to provide kits to evacuees in both Louisiana and Texas.

This is why community engagement matters. We all have unique skills and resources to offer our communities, both in the wake of disaster and every other day.

Let’s do anything we can, no matter how big or how small, to help those in need in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

If you live close to the areas affected by the storm, try to lend a helping hand by handing out supplies or helping with clean up. For those of us who may be too far away, look into local non-profits or organizations where you could donate money or supplies.

We can make a difference in our neighbors’ lives by giving our time, our efforts, our resources and our talents.

Read more about how you can make a difference in your community!