HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - In the stories that are emerging after Hurricane Michael roared through Alabama and its neighboring states along the Gulf Coast, it is clear that support and love are not hard to find.
American Red Cross staff said you can help, too, through donations. Leaders told us financial, or monetary, donations are the best way to get aid where it needs to go in a hurry. Click this link to find out the ways you can get started.
Shirley Crutcher, Disaster Program Manager at the American Red Cross, worked with a group of aid workers and volunteers in Montgomery to open a shelter for evacuees Wednesday night. She talked to us after she got back into the Huntsville area Thursday.
"We had several evacuees, some of them from some of the most devastated areas," she said. "Your heart just goes out to them, but we were able to house them in a safe place, as well as provide them with meals, food."
Crutcher said more Red Cross workers are still down in South Alabama helping. Thursday, they loaded up the Emergency Response Vehicle with supplies to go to Dothan and Ozark.
She said after speaking with evacuees, it encourages them to know that help is on the way.
"There were lots of hugs, and some tears shed. We shared those tears with them and comforted them that there is help out there," she said.
The American Red Cross is there through all kinds of disasters, and for big ones like Hurricane Michael the financial donations can go a long way.
"We purchase items for food, clean up kits, comfort kits. Items they need to recover," Crutcher said. "We buy close to, or within the areas that are impacted, which also helps to restore that community."
Many may be drawn to digging through the pantry and bringing by items. While it's helpful and often welcome, Crutcher said monetary donations are more efficient.
"'Stuff takes time and energy, and it doesn't move quickly, to those impacted areas. Whereas we've got people in those areas, close to those areas, that can quickly administer assistance," she said.
If financial donations aren't something you can do right now, Crutcher said local volunteers are also appreciated. You can give your time and energy to helping your own local community during its time of need in the future.
"That's important to us that we have volunteers that can help not just for these major disasters, but locally too, so that when we deploy people to these areas we have got people at home that can help with the local disasters like single family fires," Crutcher said.
No matter the disaster, the American Red Cross will be there. They're prepared for the long haul in the recovering from Michael.
"This is going to be a long-term recovery," Crutcher commented.