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International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC] has set in motion emergency response protocols as the US East Coast braces for a direct hit by Hurricane Florence on Friday, September 14, 2018, if predictions prove to be correct.

Hurricane Florence has set a direct course for the Carolinas in recent days and is expected to stall off the coast, dumping inches — perhaps feet — of torrential rain across the region.  This is predicted to combine with high winds and storm surge, causing coastal erosion and widespread dangerous flooding.  The National Weather Service reported that over 10 million people are under hurricane watches and warnings in the Carolinas and Virginia.

Anticipating widespread emergency response, IOCC has staff, volunteers, and equipment staging for immediate action once it is safe to begin work.  Team leaders and volunteers are preparing to conduct rapid needs assessments and muck outs, clearing water-damaged homes of sludge and debris.  In addition, IOCC’s Frontliners—professionals trained to offer emotional and spiritual care amid disaster and trauma—are standing by for deployment.  IOCC is coordinating with partners and counterparts in affected states, including the North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland Volunteer Organizations “Active in Disasters,”

“At this point, we know IOCC will respond,” said US Country Representative Daniel Christopulos.  “It’s just a matter of where.  We’re already on the ground with local Frontliners in the areas most likely to be impacted, and once it’s clear where the storm is creating the greatest need, we’ll jump into action.”

Established in 1992, IOCC has responded after numerous disasters in the United States since 2001, including last year’s Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  In addition to providing emotional and spiritual care, IOCC provided emergency food and nonfood items, muck-out assistance, clean-up kits, and generators in affected areas and continues long-term recovery work.

Volunteers interested in helping with clean-up efforts in their area once it is safe to do so may register online.  Financial gifts to support IOCC’s response to Hurricane Florence also are being accepted with gratitude.

We offer our prayers for the safety of the faithful of the many parishes across the region, and we invite communities in the affected areas to submit accounts and photos highlighting damage and needs to info@oca.org for consideration in a future article.