Hurricane Florence has devastated the Carolinas, leaving at least thirty-three dead. The destruction and danger are ongoing as flooding continues, and what we’ve been seeing is heartbreaking. We encourage you to check out this article on ways you can help.

Amidst the harrowing reports of Florence’s impact, however, we are also hearing stories of communities on the ground that have mobilized to help one another in awe-inspiring ways. Some of them are religious, some are secular, but they are all living out the directive to love thy neighbor in a very real, courageous way. In the words of Jim Pennington, a senior pastor of New Bern, N.C. Temple Church, “It’s easy to say, ‘I love God,’ but put on your boots, get your hands dirty.” Pennington was out in a kayak most of Friday pulling people out of the water — about thirty of them.

We’d like to give these people, who serve as a reminder of humanity at its best under the worst of circumstances, a shout out and a thank you.

Mosques throughout the south

Mosques have stepped up as storm shelters, handing out blankets, food, and clean water. They’re providing much needed dry land for people to stand on — metaphorically and literally — in places where recent years haven’t always seen Muslim communities treated with respect.

Cajun Navy

A civilian group founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Cajun Navy assisted in about 30,000 rescues during hurricane Harvey. They’re now in the Carolinas, continuing to fulfill their inspiring mission: “We the people of Louisiana refuse to stand by and wait for help in the wake of disasters in our state and the country. We rise up to unite and help rescue our neighbors!”

Civilian Crisis Response Team

Another civilian rescue group based out of Indiana, the Civilian Crisis Response Team numbers about 1,000 members across several states. Members are currently active in the Carolinas, pulling the stranded out of waterlogged houses and off the top of cars.

The Pet Rescuers

Some heroic volunteers from Texas — who lived through the devastation of Harvey — rescued six dogs out of locked outdoor cages on the verge of being submerged. The same folks also are also doing plenty for the humans of the Carolinas, but our hearts are warmed at the sight of some canines being rescued too. And Tony Alsup has been driving around the region in a repurposed school bus rescuing all kinds of pets.

The Southern Baptists

The Southern Baptists have been operating mobile kitchens throughout affected areas and deploying shower units and workers with chain saws (to free those trapped in inundated structures) along the coast. Many other Churches have opened their doors as storm shelters, as well.

These groups are just a few that have mobilized to take care of their communities or the communities that are their (sometimes extended) neighbors. The Red Cross, official state services, and many large nonprofit groups are out in the field as well, doing critical work and providing extensive resources. But there is something about individuals and small civilian groups coming together in the face of tragedy — be it their own or a tragedy they recognize from across state borders — that serves as a reminder of the incredible resilience, power and beauty of human community. The courage of the individuals in these groups is inspiring and humbling.

Thanks to all who have been working in the Carolinas, and to all who have given and are giving to the organizations participating in relief efforts. 


  • Nora Battelle

    Multimedia Staff Writer at Thrive

    Nora Battelle is a writer from New York City. Her work has been published on the Awl, the Hairpin, and the LARB blog, and she's written for podcast and film. At Swarthmore College, she studied English and French literature and graduated with Highest Honors. She's fascinated by language, culture, the internet, and all the small choices that can help us thrive.