Gahanna is a place of refuge for a family forced to evacuate by Hurricane Florence, which caused severe and extensive damage in the Carolinas last month.

Hurricane Florence made landfall early Sept. 14 as a Category 1 storm just south of Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

Brenda Johnston, Gahanna Residents In Need director, said a single mom and her three children relocated to Ohio as a result of a mandatory evacuation.

"GRIN helped a North Carolina resident with food (on Sept .18)," she said. "It is so cool that Gahanna GRIN was able to help them."

Gahanna Residents In Need, commonly referred to as GRIN, is a community-wide, faith-based organization committed to helping residents in the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools.

It's located at 165 Granville St.

Beth Bentley, GRIN program director, said the evacuees have relatives in Gahanna.

"We could enter them in our system with their address from North Carolina," she said. "We technically treat them as homeless because they are evacuated."

Bentley said GRIN has Gahanna-Jefferson school district boundaries, but it can adapt to emergency needs.

She said the evacuees' relatives are GRIN clients.

American Red Cross

In addition to direct assistance to evacuees provided by GRIN, the American Red Cross, 995 E. Broad St. in Columbus, has volunteers from its Ohio Buckeye Region in the Carolinas to help those affected by the hurricane.

The Red Cross is working around the clock to provide shelter, food, comfort and other emergency support to the hurricane's victims, said Jennifer Bahney, American Red Cross communications director.

"Right now, we have 50 volunteers from the Buckeye Region in North Carolina, and six in South Carolina helping with the Florence effort," she said.

The Ohio Buckeye Region of the Red Cross covers 45 counties, including Franklin County.

The Franklin County volunteers in North Carolina represent Blacklick, Columbus, Dublin, Reynoldsburg, Westerville and Worthington. There's also one volunteer from Columbus helping with efforts in South Carolina.

"Basically, they're staffing the shelters, checking in clients, providing blankets and comfort kits containing toiletries, serving meals and snacks, providing spiritual care and mental health services, beginning casework and recovery planning," Bahney said.

On the night of Sept. 25, more than 1,750 people stayed in 31 Red Cross and community shelters in the Carolinas, according to Bahney.

This included about 1,500 people in 22 shelters in North Carolina, and more than 200 people in nine shelters in South Carolina.

In total, the Red Cross and other organizations have provided more than 111,500 overnight stays in emergency shelters across the Carolinas.

The Red Cross has provided about 91 percent of these stays.

Working with partners, the Red Cross also has served more than 747,600 meals and snacks, and distributed more than 101,000 relief items such as diapers and comfort kits that contain deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items to people forced from their homes, Bahney said.

How to help

She said the Red Cross encourages people to help with relief efforts by donating time through volunteering and donating blood.

Rodney Wilson, Red Cross external communications manager, said Hurricane Florence's wrath left catastrophic damage behind and also took a toll on blood and platelet donations.

He said roughly 200 Red Cross blood drives in the Southeast had to be canceled, resulting in more than 6,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations.

"Individuals outside the affected areas are urged to help by giving blood or platelets to care for patients in the storm's path and across the country," Wilson said. "Currently, there is a critical need for platelet donations and type O blood donations."

Blood drive locations can be found by contacting the Red Cross at RedCrossBlood.org, 1-800-RED CROSS, or using the Red Cross Blood Donor App to search for nearby blood drives.

Bahney said people also can donate $10 from their smartphones by texting FLORENCE to 90999.

Anyone who wants to volunteer can visit RedCross.org and click "Become a Volunteer," then fill out the online application.

Volunteers are needed for disaster services, blood drives, telethons and communications.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla