All Hands On Deck: A Hurricane Florence Call For Help

Hurricane Florence first responders describe conditions in North Carolina and make a plea for your help.


On a raft in the middle of raging Florence flood waters, Curtis Drafton made his way toward the calls for help.

They were coming from the second floor of a submerged home in North Carolina. A woman was stranded inside—along with her dog and cat. Curtis, a 42-year-old former member of the U.S. Army, was on a Hurricane Florence rescue mission with the North Carolina Military Veterans Hall of Fame.

A fellow military veteran with Curtis dove through 8-ft. of murky water to guide the woman to safety, then went back to rescue her pets, while Curtis made sure they were all safely aboard the raft.

“She didn’t want to leave without her dog and her cat. We got all three. All three are safe,” an exhausted Curtis told GlobalGiving, as he took a short breather from a 15-hour search and rescue shift, one of many he’s completed since Hurricane Florence made landfall.

“As soon as I found out the hurricane was coming, I heard they’d need all hands on deck, so I left,” said Curtis, who lives a few hours from where Florence hit the hardest.

Curtis is part of a small team of Hall of Fame veterans who fielded thousands of calls from stranded residents in Wilmington and New Bern, North Carolina, contending with widespread power outages and limited food supplies.

They navigated dangerous conditions in rafts because motorized boats pose a risk to people who might be awash in strong currents. Curtis called GlobalGiving about 72 hours after Florence made landfall to ask for help and underscore the severity of the situation in the Carolinas.

“Right now, the ocean is still pushing in millions of gallons of water per hour. Rescue efforts are mainly by boat and helicopter. Rivers and streams are all backed up,” Curtis said.

Five days after the hurricane hit, his team remained on stand by. Calls for rescue had slowed, but county rivers continued to rise—and would for another week, Curtis said.

Curtis encouraged military veterans—there are more than 700,000 in North Carolina—to join Florence rescue efforts. “We’re used to this. We’re made for this,” he said.

Curtis asks other veterans to help Hurricane Florence first response.

Curtis Drafton, a former specialist in the U.S. Army, is on a Hurricane Florence rescue mission with The North Carolina Military Veterans Hall of Fame. Photo by J. Louis Shepherd

The North Carolina Military Veterans Hall of Fame is one of several vetted organizations behind the Hurricane Florence Relief Fund managed by the Disaster Recovery Team at GlobalGiving. Donations from the Fund will power Hall of Fame rescue missions, along with other urgent and long-term needs in Florence-affected communities.

[See our full list of Hurricane Florence Relief Fund partners.]

Fuel Relief Fund is giving gas to stranded evacuees and first responders for cars, generators, and medical equipment. World Central Kitchen, Inc., is serving hot meals. And Circle of Health International is delivering cash grants to women and children caught in the eye of the storm with scarce escape options.

They’re sending an urgent message at the height of Florence flooding: They need your help to continue to deliver emergency services in the Carolinas.

Sarah Kruger, the executive director of Fuel Relief Fund, also reached out to GlobalGiving to share her team’s massive impact so far and their determination to see the Carolinas through the worst of Hurricane Florence.

“The team has been hard at work in North Carolina for the last couple of days,” she told GlobalGiving. “Despite unending heavy rain and widespread road closures, we were able to provide over 400 families with more than 2,100 gallons of fuel yesterday. Positive feedback and requests for fuel are pouring in from civilians and first responders from all across the region, so we anticipate this being a very busy week.”

Donate to the Hurricane Florence Relief Fund to support vetted organizations on the ground in the Carolinas. The Disaster Recovery Team at GlobalGiving will ensure your gift reaches those most in need now and over the long haul.


Learn more about the Disaster Recovery Team at GlobalGiving.

Publication note: This story was originally published on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 and updated on Sept. 20, 2018. Featured Photo: Marcus Dipaola helps 5-year-old Ember Kelly off a rescue boat carrying her sisters and mother from rising flood waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Leland, North Carolina on Sept. 16, 2018 by REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

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