While Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm, some naysayers scoffed at earlier forecasts that predicted catastrophic winds. The high-pressure system that stifled Florence’s development also blocked her. As a result, many North Carolina cities saw record-breaking rainfall. High winds can wreak destruction, but most havoc comes from floodwaters.

The best way to help is to donate cash. CharityNavigator.org’s home page under “Hot Topics” has a “Relief for Hurricane Florence” link. Categories include General Aid and Relief, Medical Services, Housing and Shelter, Animal Care and Services, Financial Aid for Families, and Hunger Relief. A local non-profit, Flip Flop Floatilla, is collecting supplies. Drop-off locations include Stinky’s, The Bay 331, Destin Fisherman’s Co-Op and Southern Self-Storage locations at Grayton Beach, Panama City Beach and Seagrove Beach. Even though they don’t have a rating from Charity Navigator, the founder, Christian Oakes, has participated in Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. Coordinating with the Cajun Navy, they focus on smaller, often-overlooked communities.

Another non-profit not on Charity Navigator’s radar we support is “Hope Thru Soap.” The Atlanta area organization provides showers and meals for the ATL’s homeless. In Florence’s devastating wake, people will have a hard time taking a bath. Hope Thru Soap has a South Walton connection, too. Former Blue Mountain Beach Mayor and raconteur Tom Smith volunteers his culinary expertise. #DGD

A four-star charity I know personally is the United Methodist Committee on Relief. All specified donations will go to hurricane relief efforts. The church covers the overhead plus they have trailers with supplies pre-positioned around the Southeast. If you don’t have a specific niche, supplies, and training, you will probably get in the way. Word to the wise, stay home. For instance, CERT training educates volunteers about disaster preparedness and trains them in disaster response.

Like coastal North Carolina, South Walton is a high hazard zone for tropical storms and hurricanes. Exacerbating problems in North Carolina is development often occurs in flood-prone areas. In an NPR interview, North Carolina’s Commissioner of Insurance, Republican Mike Causey, mentioned the state should buyout flood-prone properties.

“We just shouldn't allow folks to rebuild in the same spot where their home was destroyed by flood,” he said.

He also noted home construction should be approved to withstand a 500-year flood.

Fortunately, South Walton doesn’t have hog manure lagoons, but we have a different malodorous problem. Developing and filling wetlands is like lighting a dynamite fuse; eventually, it will blow up. For years I thought wetlands were land that held water, but I was wrong. A wetland often is a parcel of land that holds water when it rains. Filling wetland pushes water on previously dry property. We are setting the stage for a disaster. Support North Carolina, one day it could be us.

You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help figure out what you need. For specific recommendations, visit livingstonfinancial.net or come by the office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Suite 230.