Here is how you can help out those affected by Hurricane Michael
Hurricane Michael, now the third-strongest tropical system to hit the continental United States, barreled into Florida's Panhandle as a Category 4 monster, its sustained winds just 2 mph short of Category 5 status.
After plowing through northwest Florida on Wednesday afternoon, it continued into Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, leaving a path of devastation along the way.
Though the center of the storm is officially out in the Atlantic, people in Michael's path will be living with its damage for a long time.
Here are few ways you can help residents whose lives and livelihoods were affected by Hurricane Michael.
• The American Red Cross reports that about 4,000 people stayed Tuesday night in 70 Red Cross and community evacuation centers across Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
To donate, go to redcross.org, call 800-RED CROSS or text the word MICHAEL to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from the hurricane.
Donors can designate their donation to Hurricane Michael relief efforts by choosing that option when donating at redcross.org or when calling 800-RED CROSS.
The best way to ensure that a donation will go to a specific disaster is to write the specific disaster name in the memo line of the check. The Red Cross also recommends completing and mailing the donation form on redcross.org with the check.
• The Disaster Recovery Network at GlobalGiving, an organization that connects donors to vetted local charities after a disaster, launched the Hurricane Michael Relief Fund. It will meet survivors' immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter. Once initial relief work is complete, the fund will transition to support local organizations' longer-term recovery efforts.
Donate at globalgiving.org/projects/hurricane-michael-relief-fund. The organization guarantees donations will be used for its Hurricane Michael response.
• The Florida Disaster Fund, the state's official private fund, was activated and is taking donations to assist the victims of Hurricane Michael. You can text DISASTER to 20222 to provide a one-time $10 donation or Disaster25 to 20222 for a $25 donation to Hurricane Michael relief efforts.
• The Florida Division of the Salvation Army is working to mobilize its feeding kitchens and volunteers. To help, go to Salvation Army’s Hurricane Michael relief efforts at helpsalvationarmy.org.
• The Southeastern USA Animal Rescue Relief organization also is collecting donations as it prepares to assist with the rescue and recovery of pets left behind after Hurricane Michael. Donate for disaster relief efforts here.
• Feeding the Gulf Coast, the Panama City area's food bank, is seeking volunteers and monetary donations to help meet the needs of storm survivors. To find out how to help Feeding the Gulf Coast in its mission visit feedingthegulfcoast.org.
Community blood centers are urging the public to donate. All blood types are needed along with platelet and plasma donors.
As the cleanup begins, residents are vulnerable to accidents
Many organizations and faith-based groups have active disaster programs and need volunteers.
Go to volunteerflorida.org to find out how to help.