Hurricane help for local military families

NORFOLK, Va. - More than 400 people came into the Norfolk office for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Tuesday. They were looking to get emergency loans to help prepare for Hurricane Florence.

"I came to get an emergency loan. It was very quick; everyone was very nice and understanding," said Ardreona Desousa, who was one of the final few in the office before closing. She and her husband Blake, who is in the Navy, said they will use that money to buy water, food and make preparations for their house before the hurricane makes landfall.

Joshua Joe, another person who made it into the office before they closed their doors for the day, said he's eager to leave the area. "Kinda nervous, just ready to get out of here because I don't trust being here. I've never experienced a hurricane so I'm ready to get out," said Joe.

Kathy Nelson, the Director of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, said Sailors and Marines are vulnerable because pay day isn't until the end of the week and Hurricane Florence was unexpected.

"If you don't have the money to leave, even if you're ordered to, it's hard to put gas in your tank, put food in your fridge or get a hotel room," said Nelson.

The relief organization is made up of only volunteers, and they stepped up despite preparing for the storm themselves. They were ready to help a long line of people when the office opened at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

"Last night on Facebook, I put out the fact we were going to be crazy busy and almost all of our volunteers showed up, and that was awesome!" said Candice Strickland, the Co-Chair of Volunteers.

Meanwhile, other local military families are preparing to hunker down or evacuate. Morgan Hanrahan is a local wedding photographer. Her fiance is in the Air Force, and they are both leaving the area for work.

"I will be traveling to Sandbridge tomorrow to do a wedding that got moved up and then traveling to Pennsylvania Thursday from Richmond. He will be leaving tomorrow and will be gone for the next week," said Hanrahan.

This isn't her first hurricane; she's gone through Katrina and a few others, but as a child with her parents. This is her first one alone as an adult. She's nervous for her home in Ghent, which is in Zone A, but feels confident that after checking off a few more things on her to-do list, she'll be ready.

"It's more about making sure my dogs are all set to go, making sure the house is safe," said Hanrahan.

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Office will be open at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Their locations include Norfolk, Little Creek, Oceana and Portsmouth, and they have a satellite office at the shipyard in Newport News.