How to help Hurricane Sally victims along the Gulf Coast

Hurricane Sally
Flooding from Hurricane Sally. Photo submitted

The sun is out, but the damage is far from over. Hurricane Sally is the first hurricane to make landfall in Alabama since Hurricane Ivan in 2004, exactly sixteen years ago. Relief efforts are still underway to pick up the pieces—here’s how you can help victims weather the storm.

A look at the damage + current situation

According to the New York Times, at least 377 people were rescued from flooding in a Florida county. While originally it looked like the storm might miss this area of Alabama, Mayor Tony Kennon of Orange Beach Alabama reported significant damage in the area—including one fatality.

“24 to 36 hours ago it was nothing more than a nuisance rain event, but Sally took a hard right there in the last minute and jumped from a Category 1 to a strong Category 2. We had 20 inches of rain or more—it was devastating as far as the amount of flooding, trees down, we’re without power.”

Mayor Tony Kennon of Orange Beach, AL in an interview with CNN

Mayor Kennon also reported that between 12PM September 16 and midnight, rescue teams ran around 120+ emergency trips to save residents from flooding. We reached out to a Pensacola, Florida resident for a first-hand perspective as the storm began to roll in.

“Our area wasn’t under mandatory evacuation, but we didn’t know we’d be hit directly until around Tuesday morning. It was just so slow-moving. It started getting bad Tuesday around 9PM and didn’t clear up until Wednesday around noon.”

Melissa Williams, Pensacola, FL

As for the current environment after the storm, it looks like a lot less power and lot more water.

“We lost power for about a day, but thankfully ours is back on now. We still don’t have internet and cell service is spotty in places. The biggest impact was from the amount of water—a lot of areas are still experiencing flooding. When the ground gets so saturated, the wind can knock trees down a lot easier, so that caused a lot of damage too.”

Melissa Williams, Pensacola, FL

Local organizations help with the efforts—so can you

Hurricane Sally
Damage near the beach after Hurricane Sally. Photo submitted

American Red Cross

Donate funds

Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters. This includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance.

  • Text HURRICANES to 90999 to make a $10 donation
  • Call 800-RED-CROSS to make a donation
  • Choose “Hurricane Sally” when making a direct donation

Donate blood

  • Schedule an appointment to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app
  • Visiting RedCrossBlood.org 
  • Call 800-RED CROSS

Volunteer

  • Review urgent volunteer positions

United Way of Central Alabama

Alabama’s 211 network

United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) stepped into action when Hurricane Laura first hit Louisana and continues to stay on the line through Hurricane Sally.

The Alabama 211 network connects call centers across the state to ensure survivors are equipped with critical information and services. Here’s a look at their ongoing efforts:

  • UWCA staff members have currently assisted with 80 calls
  • Helping residents with emergency shelter, food and disaster cleanup information
  • Continuing to work through the day and night and provide vital support

“United Way of Central Alabama’s 2-1-1 services are responding to the impacts of Hurricane Sally across Alabama. We are seeing an increase in calls for assistance with shelter resources, tarps for damaged roofs, and issues with severe flooding. If you have resources available, please dial 2-1-1 and provide your resource information so individuals can receive help.”

Karla Lawrence, United Way of Central Alabama Senior VP Community Initiatives

AT&T Alabama

Critical Cell Service Connection

Whether trying to connect with loved ones or receive emergency aid, having strong cell service is crucial during disastrous events. During Hurricane Sally AT&T was able to provide:

  • Generators at critical cell sites and switching facilities, enabling connectivity and mitigating disruption in service.
  • Deployed their NDR team, in partnership with the FirstNet Response Operations team, to work closely with first responders and local leaders in impacted communities and deploy assets as needed.

Aiding neighbors financially

  • Contributed $100,000 to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) in Alabama.
  • Activated a Text to Give feature for customers who can text HURRICANES to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross to help those affected by Hurricane Sally in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. 
  • Waived data overage charges for impacted wireless and prepaid customers, so they’ll receive unlimited talk, text and data. (This offer is for customers based in 195 specific zip codes in areas across Alabama and Northwest Florida from September 19 through September 23.)

The Greater Birmingham Humane Society

Photo via the GBHS’ Twitter

Donate needed items

Many shelters in the path of Hurricane Sally are left with little or no supplies. The GBHS is stepping up and facilitating the transportation of needed supplies to impacted shelters along the coast.

Donate directly to the GBHS Hurricane Relief, choose from their Amazon Wishlist or drop off the below items at 300 Snow Drive Birmingham, AL 35209:

  • Dog & Cat Food (wet or dry)
  • Non-Clumping Cat Litter
  • Dog & Cat Toys
  • New Pet Beds
  • New Collapsible Crates
  • New Leashes
  • New Collars
  • Rubbermaid Containers
  • Tarps

Discover more state resources from Governor Ivey’s office. Do you know of other ways to help victims of Hurricane Sally? Fill us in on social  @BhamNow on Facebook and Instagram, or @Now_Bham on Twitter.