Mercy Corps Brings Light to N.C. as Flood Dangers Remain

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Solar lanterns and emergency cash to be distributed

Jill Morehead, Mercy Corps’ Emergency Response Team Leader, demonstrates how solar lanterns work. (Thomas Paik/Mercy Corps)

All that water that fell in central North Carolina over last weekend is now flowing downstream into South Carolina and towards the east and the Atlantic. People are still in danger of losing power and suffering property damage.

Mercy Corps on Friday began distributing solar lanterns in several communities in the eastern areas of North Carolina hardest hit by Florence last week, with an emphasis on reaching socially marginalized populations.

By the weekend, Jill Morehead, Mercy Corps’ Emergency Response Team Leader, had distributed 50 solar lanterns in Lumberton, 50 in New Bern, 150 in Havelock, 50 in Wilmington and 200 in Jacksonville, N.C. Many of the towns are still threatened by floodwaters from nearby rivers yet to crest, and many are considered actively at risk of continued flooding.

In Lumberton, some 200 people were taking shelter at the local high school. It has already lost power twice, and many people are there because they still do not have power at home. The lanterns are in public areas to allow people to recharge their phones.

"The rains have may have stopped, but the floodwaters upstream have to go somewhere," says Morehead. "All that water that fell in central North Carolina over last weekend is now flowing downstream into South Carolina and towards the east and the Atlantic. People are still in danger of losing power and suffering property damage."

Lumberton has not yet recovered from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Further flooding in the coming week could result in more power outages and prevent people from returning home.

Florence's deluge killed at least 45 people in Virginia and the Carolinas, dropping some three feet of rain from Sept 14-17. Mercy Corps quickly deployed Morehead to work alongside Team Rubicon to determine where and how to best respond. In addition to solar-powered lanterns, the global organization anticipates distributing prepaid debit cards to residents of the hardest hit areas so they can buy food and other needed items as they return home.

Mercy Corps is committed to empowering people around the world to survive through crisis, build better lives and transform their communities for good. Visit our website, http://www.mercycorps.org to donate to our Humanitarian Response Fund and support Mercy Corps’ work in the Carolinas and in other natural disasters and emergencies around the world.

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Chris Allbritton
Mercy Corps
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