As Hurricane Florence slammed into the Carolinas late last week, bringing with it torrential rain and flooding, the news was grim: Towns were transformed into islands cut off by floodwaters, the number of storm-related deaths increased daily and hundreds of thousands were left stranded without power.
Among those closely tracking Florence’s destructive path and aftermath is NBA legend Michael Jordan, who was raised in Wilmington, N.C., one of the towns that still remains largely besieged with water. Seeing the catastrophic scenes of his home state prompted Jordan to take action, announcing on Tuesday a $2 million donation to storm relief and recovery efforts. The money will benefit the American Red Cross and the Foundation for the Carolinas’ Hurricane Florence Response Fund, with each organization receiving $1 million, according to a news release.
“It just hits home,” the 55-year-old told the Associated Press. “I know all of those places: Wilmington, Fayetteville, Myrtle Beach, New Bern, and Wallace, which is where my father is from. So quite naturally it hits home, and I felt like I had to act in a sense that this is my home.”
As majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Jordan retains strong ties to the state where his illustrious career began. The Hall of Famer played high school basketball at Emsley A. Laney in Wilmington and moved on to dominate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before becoming an NBA star. According to the AP, Jordan still has family and friends living in the affected areas and hopes to visit them as soon as roads are cleared.
In an interview with the Charlotte Observer, Jordan stressed that his donation is intended to not only provide immediate relief but to mitigate the storm’s long-term effects. He noted, “This is going to have a huge disruption on people’s lives — not for 10 days, but for years.”
“You gotta take care of home,” he said.
The Red Cross is supplying food and shelter to people who have been displaced by the storm and the Foundation for the Carolinas is responsible for directing funds to nonprofits in North and South Carolina tasked with providing aid, the release said.
Jordan’s donation is one of the largest individual contributions to the Florence recovery yet. On Sunday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the NFL Foundation would be giving $1 million. The area’s other professional sports organizations have also stepped up — the Carolina Panthers launched a T-shirt campaign and the Carolina Hurricanes started a relief drive.
This isn’t the first time Jordan has given back to his North Carolina community. In October 2017, he donated $7 million to fund two medical clinics serving Charlotte’s low-income areas, The Post’s Cindy Boren reported.
In addition to Jordan’s monetary contribution in the wake of Florence, the Hornets organization will also take an active role in providing aid. Last week, the team announced on Twitter that it would be working with Jordan, the NBA and community organizations to “provide necessary and immediate relief and support.”
“It’s truly devastating for me to see the damage Hurricane Florence is doing to my beloved home state of North Carolina and to the surrounding areas,” Jordan wrote in a statement released Friday. “The recovery effort will be massive, and it will take a long time to repair the damage and for families to get back on their feet.”
Later this week, more than 100 members of the Hornets organization, including business and basketball staff, will help pack disaster food boxes at a local food bank in Charlotte, according to Tuesday’s news release. The boxes will be sent to Wilmington, Fayetteville and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and will provide individual meals to those in need. The organization’s goal is to pack 5,000 boxes, the release said.
The team also announced the creation of a special T-shirt for sale with all proceeds going to the Foundation for the Carolinas’ Hurricane Florence Response Fund. Its design features the Hornets logo in the middle of the states of North and South Carolina and the words “Carolina Strong,” according to the release.
Jordan told the Observer he hopes his donation will galvanize others to take action.
“I hope people understand the importance of this and direct their attention to making things better,” he said.
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