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RALEIGH: Volunteers are continuing to help North Carolinians recover from Hurricane Florence, more than six months after the storm struck the state, damaging homes, schools, businesses, farms and entire communities. To date, more than 75,555 volunteers have performed over 1.7 million hours of community service in North Carolina to help with recovery efforts.

To help North Carolina continue to make good use of volunteers in future emergencies, the state’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service hosted a team of 12 experts from six countries. The team from IBM’s Corporate Service Corps spent the past four weeks analyzing how North Carolina utilizes volunteers and donations during times of disaster.

“Donations of time and resources are critical when disaster strikes, and we are grateful for all those who help,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “As volunteers help rebuild homes and lives following Hurricane Florence, we are making sure North Carolina and its volunteers are also ready for future disasters.”

When Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina in September 2018, donations and volunteer efforts were crucial to getting needed supplies like food and water to communities and providing survivors with hot meals and shelter. Volunteers and donations remain key to long-term recovery as the state works to rebuild.

During its time in North Carolina, the IBM team used its knowledge of business solutions and technology tools to look at the systems in place in North Carolina for donations and volunteer management during major disasters. The pro-bono consultants interviewed hurricane victims, local and state emergency management, mayors, religious groups, nonprofits and others to understand the systems and processes used in the past.

Based on the review, the Governor’s office is working to establish a group that will meet regularly to plan trainings and build relationships among nonprofits, religious leaders, and community leaders at all levels to prepare for future disasters. The group will help improve communication and collaboration between VOADs (volunteer organizations active in disaster) and state and local government entities before, during and after disasters.

“North Carolinians have been hit hard by hurricanes and other natural disasters these past few years and I am amazed and humbled by the generosity and goodwill of people across our state and around the world who help us in times of trouble,” said Caroline Farmer, Executive Director of the Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. “The typical outpouring of assistance requires enormous organization and effort to manage. IBM graciously volunteered to help analyze our past efforts and help us look for new approaches as we continue to improve our work.”

Over the last 10 years, IBM’s Corporate Service Corps has mobilized more than 4,000 employees from 61 countries, and deployed them to 44 countries to address societal, civic, and economic challenges. Corporate Service Corps is the delivery mechanism for implementing ideas developed via an IBM-led software programming effort called “Code and Response,” a $25 million, four-year initiative to build, fortify, test, and launch open source technology solutions to help communities prepare for and recover from disasters. In October 2018, in the wake of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, as part of a yearlong, worldwide runup to Code and Response, IBM brought developers, humanitarian and disaster relief organizations, technical experts, and community leaders to IBM’s facility in Raleigh to brainstorm ideas for new approaches for disaster preparedness.

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