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'Catch the Falling Knife': Humanitarian Groups Get Ready to Race in After Florence Strikes

09-12-2018
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Humanitarian organizations are preparing to help the more than 5 million people whose homes lie in the path of Hurricane Florence.

Most, like World Vision, have been tracking the storm and organizing supplies and staff for days. 

Reed Slattery, director of US programs for World Vision, has worked multiple disasters including Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last year. For Florence, he said forecasting has allowed ample prep time. "We've had more time to just track Florence's track," he said. "We've been monitoring Florence since last week."

World Vision will send five truckloads of emergency supplies from Dallas to Atlanta on Wednesday and then will direct the trucks to the hardest hit areas once the storm passes. It's already connecting with churches in the path of Florence to determine needs.

Likewise, Springfield, Missouri-based Convoy of Hope sent a tractor-trailer of supplies to Knoxville on Wednesday to watch the storm and then come in on the weaker side once it passes. 

Spokesman Jeff Nene told CBN News, "We want to have at least one truck in the area when it hits so we can get in immediately."

Convoy of Hope will send 15 or so people with a mobile command center, a bunkhouse trailer, and a shower trailer to deploy to whatever it decides will be its main staging area.

"We will pick a spot, most likely a large church parking lot and that will be our ground zero, our main deployment area," Nene said. From there, Convoy trucks will take supplies into other communities. 

"Our emphasis is to try to find a populated area that needs the most help," said Nene, who noted that Convoy will coordinate with FEMA and state agencies responding to Florence.

Two Virginia-Beach based ministries, Operation Blessing and Mercy Chefs, find themselves responding to a disaster in their own backyard. 

Mercy Chefs founder Gary LeBlanc said Tuesday, "Mercy Chefs is used to running to the fight. We always run where the greatest need is. We're sort of back on our heels this time because the fight is coming to us."

Mercy Chefs typically arrives on the scene of a disaster within 8 hours to feed first responders and victims its signature "high-quality, hand-crafted, chef-prepared food."

LeBlanc has already committed to serving shelters and emergency operation centers in Hampton Roads and is preparing to send another mobile kitchen, which can produce as many as 15,000 meals a day, to North Carolina.

Operation Blessing is pre-staging a convoy of equipment in Emporia, Virginia until Florence makes landfall.  

It's also keeping a team in Virginia Beach ready to respond. That team includes a mobile command center, kitchen, construction trailer, a truck full of emergency relief supplies and a "dehumidifier trailer" which dries and sanitizes flooded homes.

For now, the challenge for Operation Blessing and other groups is to keep a loose grip on teams and supplies, positioning them to move quickly once Florence hits.

Anthony Lloyd, senior director of domestic disaster recovery for Operation Blessing, told CBN News, "You want to put those folks in a place where you catch the falling knife. You don't want to be victims in the storm but you want to get into the high impact areas as quickly as possible."

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