Grants, storm kits and more: Helping our communities weather storm season Grants, storm kits and more: Helping our communities weather storm season

Grants, storm kits and more: Helping our communities weather storm season

Microgrants provide first responders, nonprofits and emergency management teams with the tools and training to handle what Mother Nature throws our way


As tropical activity begins to pick up this summer, so do Duke Energy’s efforts to help customers and communities prepare for hurricanes and other emergencies.

The Duke Energy Foundation, marking its 40th year of supporting worthwhile causes, has awarded $180,000 in microgrants to 13 organizations and agencies in Florida. Funds will support a range of efforts across the Sunshine State, where community resilience and preparedness are a year-round effort.

Two women hug at a volunteer event. One faces the camera with a broad smile.
Ann Marie Winter leads the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, overseeing investments that help 65,000 Florida seniors each year age in place.

“We are grateful for the ongoing collaboration and commitment of our first responders, emergency management officials and community agencies to prepare, plan and engage our communities,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “We have been through enough storms to know that being prepared is our best defense.”

On the west-central coast of Florida, the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas (AAAPP) received $25,000 to distribute hurricane kits to older adults.

“Having a hurricane preparedness kit provides a level of comfort and peace of mind,” said Ann Marie Winter, executive director of AAAPP. “Along with that, we also want seniors to start considering their overall plan for storm season, such as, ‘If I need to evacuate, where will I go? How can I register for a special needs shelter if that is what I will need to stay safe? What should I bring with me if I do leave my home?’”

A closeup photo of an emergency light stick, with is brightly colored in neon green.
At least 250 storm kits will be distributed to older adults in Florida as a result of the Duke Energy Foundation grant funding.

Storm kits include a flashlight, batteries, battery-powered radio, first-aid kit, bottled water, emergency light stick, poncho, whistle and other essentials. And early reviews are positive.

One senior in Pinellas County appreciated that the tote bag holding all the goods is insulated and big enough for her to add food and clothes. “If I need to evacuate,” she said, “I can fit what I need in this one bag, which is very helpful.”

Another senior offered a compliment that speaks to the commitment of Duke Energy’s 27,000 employees, including the 3,700 who serve Florida’s 2 million customers: “I appreciate that there are people and companies thinking about us this time of year.”

No one had to twist Loretta Murray’s arm to help pack hurricane kits through Duke Energy In Action, which offers employees the privilege of engagement through volunteerism across the company’s seven-state territory.

Every year Duke Energy employees volunteer thousands of hours in the communities where they live and work.

Murray, based in St. Petersburg, is Foundation Manager for Duke Energy Florida. She’s been with Duke Energy (formerly Florida Power/Progress Energy) for 37 years. Murray was born and raised in Florida, which means she’s experienced too many hurricanes to count. She’s heard the winds howl, watched the rain fall in torrents, hunkered down with family and neighbors, and prayed to survive whatever comes ashore.

Now, as another season of potentially dangerous weather unfolds, Murray feels blessed to help answer those prayers.

“The Duke Energy Foundation is proud to power the vitality of our communities through philanthropy that focuses on vibrant economies, climate resiliency, and justice, equity and inclusion,” she said. “I know the fear and devastation that a hurricane can bring. I’ve lived through it. Now I get to do something about it. It does me proud.”

Duke Energy reminds customers that personal preparedness is key to a more resilient home or business.

Community resilience and preparedness are long-standing priorities of the Foundation, which has awarded more than $1.7 million to support Florida’s disaster preparedness since 2019. And similar work is underway in the Carolinas.

The Foundation distributed $500,000 in grants to South Carolina nonprofits and government agencies in 2024, funds that will pay for training, lifesaving equipment and new technology to aid in disaster planning and recovery operations.

An additional $700,000 in natural disaster preparedness grants is available in North Carolina, with a focus on helping fund work that will improve outcomes for low-income and under-resourced communities, as well as equipment necessary for search and rescue efforts and other emergency communication tools.

Get storm-ready

Atlantic hurricane season runs mid-summer through October.

Ensure you're prepared for the 2024 storm season with these safety tips, and consider downloading the free Red Cross Emergency app for advice ahead of the storm, and response activities as communities recover.


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