Topsail Island Hurricanes
On Topsail Island, over $6 billion in damage was caused in 1996 by the combination of Hurricane Bertha in July and Hurricane Fran in September. More recently it was Floyd in 1999 and Bonnie in 1998 and, way back when, Hazel in 1959.
These are the times when the American Red Cross has stepped in to provide assistance that falls into two general categories: hard and soft.
Hard assistance involves material items such as food, shelter, clean-up kits, comfort kits and financial assistance. Soft assistance minimizes suffering through listening, guidance, advocacy, and counseling.
The local Red Cross chapter also serves as an information clearinghouse for all sorts of inquiries, ranging from where are my relatives to what should I do now.
As soon as the weather forecast seems dire, the Red Cross goes to work opening shelters for those who are likely to be displaced. It stocks up on supplies to prepare meals and snacks, usually in a public school or other large community facility, and trundles out a collection of army cots and blankets.
Red Cross interviewers greet the refugees as they come in the door and determine their needs: groceries, new clothes, rent, emergency home repairs, transportation, medicines, and tools. They let people know about other community or government resources available to them and hang in there for the long run when those other resources fall short.
Red Cross nurses work 12-hour shifts giving first aid and other health-related services, which might involve helping to pay for medical needs, prescriptions or supplies, and also providing blood and blood products.
Disaster Mental Health Services workers are licensed mental health practitioners trained to recognize the emotional impact of a disaster.
When the hurricane waters recede, the job is far from finished. There could very well be issues with the local water supply. In addition to having a bad odor and taste, water may be contaminated by a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria and parasites that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis. All water of uncertain purity should be treated before use.