The East Coast got the first taste of hurricane season last week, facing Hurricane Florence on the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts. Although the hurricane was eventually downgraded to a tropical storm, Florence dumped record rainfall on the Carolinas, causing intense damage and flooding.

In times of loss and disaster, our communities always step up to help those around them. All over the southeast, men and women are giving their time, money and resources to help their friends and neighbors in the path of Florence.

As the coasts prepare to weather the rest of hurricane season, there are many ways you can help those in the path of major storms. Here are just a few:

  1. Donate – Maybe it feels like you aren’t doing that much by donating money, but cash goes a long way in disaster relief. Cash is flexible, and first responders can use it for any need they identify. Find a major or local charity that’s providing disaster relief to donate some much-needed cash. If you want to make sure your donation is effective, do some research on charities before giving.
  2. Give blood – If you meet the requirements, giving blood is a quick way to help those affected by storms. Responders may come up short on blood during relief efforts, so donating your blood makes a huge impact.
  3. Volunteer – Maybe you can’t give money, but you’re close enough to an affected area to give your time. Connect with a local church, fire station or charity to see if you can sort supplies, serve meals or use whatever resources you have to help the victims and first responders.

Do you live in an area that may be hit by another hurricane before the season is over? Take a few steps to get ready before a storm hits:

  1. Prepare – That sounds obvious, but prepare as much as possible. Research your evacuation routes, get food and supply kits together, put gas in your car and make sure your family knows the plan if you need to leave your home.
  2. Listen to authorities – Stay on top of what authorities are telling you about storm trajectories and evacuation zones. You can follow local and national news to find out if you need to evacuate and where you should go.
  3. Reach out for help – Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Contact a local church, charity or responder if you need help preparing for a storm. That’s what they’re there for!

Natural disasters can’t dampen the American passion for helping others. Use these tips to help those affected by Florence and take the steps to stay safe during hurricane season.