Now that major Hurricane Michael has hit the Florida panhandle, aid groups are waiting out the storm and have been getting ready to help.
Staff and volunteers from Red Cross chapters in other parts of Florida and from other parts of the country have been deploying. The South Florida Region announced on Tuesday that, so far, it has sent 20 people to Tallahassee and Alabama.
“Even though Hurricane Michael won’t directly affect our region, we are ready to send support to our neighbors in North Florida,” said Joanne Nowlin, Regional CEO of the South Florida Region. “We are One Red Cross and we come together when disaster strikes.”
The North Florida chapter is also getting ready and asking for volunteers and has information on how you can help.
Other volunteers are coming from as far away as Phoenix, Arizona. Fox 10 reported on Tuesday that 500 trained Red Cross volunteers have been pre-positioned in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.
The American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) is also helping. It was founded in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and provides free logistics assistance to disaster relief organizations before, during, and after catastrophic events.
“In an ideal world we’d have plenty of time to focus all of our efforts on Hurricane Florence’s clean-up and recovery,” said Kathy Fulton, ALAN’s Executive Director. “But in the real world, major hurricanes don’t always wait for their turn. As a result, we are officially activating for Hurricane Michael.”
Earlier today, ALAN expanded its hurricane micro-site (www.alanaid.org/operations/) to include key details about Michael’s projected path, impacts, and related logistics needs. This is where humanitarian organizations can communicate with ALAN, quickly connecting them with the logistics they need.
ALAN encourages those who are interested in helping with Hurricane Michael relief to visit the site often over the next few weeks – reminding people that the greatest volume of its requests for warehousing, transportation and material handling equipment usually arrive well after a hurricane has passed – or to consider fulfilling one of the many Hurricane Florence logistics requests that are already showcased there.
In the interim, ALAN urges logistics professionals to focus on keeping themselves and their U.S. Gulf Coast employees safe, and to resist the temptation to send unsolicited products, trucks, or personnel directly to impacted areas.
“Many of these well-intended charitable efforts actually get in the way of what relief organizations are already there to do,” said Fulton. “So more often than not, the best way that our industry can be of help is by responding to specific needs, or making a cash donation to a non-profit disaster relief organization that aligns with their organization’s mission and values.”
Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida around 1 p.m. EDT today with maximum sustained winds of 155 mpg. This puts the storm at the top of the Category 4 wind range. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 45 miles, tropical storm force winds extend to 175 miles.
A gust of 130 mph was reported at a University of Florida/Weatherflow observing station near Tyndall Air Force Base, just 15 miles from the point of landfall, before the instrument failed. A gust of 129 mph was reported at the Northwest Beaches International Airport (code: ECP) in Panama City, just 21 miles from the point of landfall.
Michael is forecast to remain a major hurricane as it moves into southwest Georgia and southeast Alabama tonight, then the Carolinas on Thursday, producing wind and flooding damage along the way.