A Riverside-based nonprofit is working to distribute fuel to North Carolinians stranded and in the dark in the wake of Hurricane Florence, with staff Tuesday asking anyone with the means to make a donation to the effort.
"When people think about immediate needs after a major disaster, they generally think of shelter, food and water," according to a statement released by the Fuel Relief Fund. "But without fuel, homes and evacuation shelters have no light, food can't be refrigerated and cooked, and water can't be pumped or treated."
According to the nonprofit, volunteers have been traveling by commercial truck to distribute free gasoline to parts of south central and northwest North Carolina since the weekend.
Some areas haven't been accessible due to roads submerged in 20 feet of water.
"Since Florence made landfall, the Fuel Relief Fund has provided fuel for nearly 900 families, as well as police departments, fire stations and local radio stations," according to the organization. "We are focused on serving lower-income areas with more acute needs and fewer resources at their disposal."
Some residents couldn't evacuate and are now relying on outside resources to remain afloat, according to the Fuel Relief Fund.
Susan Carroll of Navassa, North Carolina, sent a video thank you to the nonprofit, saying that although she and her neighbors tried to prepare for the storm's impact, "it's been so extensive that we've run out of fuel, and fortunately we've had friends and neighbors able to get here and receive the fuel."
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"It's extremely helpful just to keep our generators going," Carroll said. "At least we can get food and water, even though we are pretty well landlocked right now with the flooding. But because of the fuel, we can keep the lights on and keep the food hot for the elderly, the shut-ins and all others in our community."
At the height of the storm, an estimated 1 million North Carolinians were without electricity. But state officials said Tuesday that he number was down to around 300,000.
Florence is being blamed for at least 34 deaths in three states.
Donations to the Fuel Relief Fund can be made at http://fuelrelieffund.org/ .