Bethenny Frankel is hard at work organizing relief for those affected by Hurricane Florence after it made landfall in North Carolina last week. However, The Real Housewives of New York City humanitarian is still in the process of dealing with her own personal tragedy.
Bethenny has been mourning the loss of her on-off boyfriend Dennis Shields since his passing on August 10. “The work I am doing for hurricane relief is a good outlet, but I’m trying to not get too immersed and not avoid the grieving process and feeling,” Bethenny recently told PEOPLE. “I am going through an emotional storm and must go through and not around it.”
After receiving so much kindness in her hour of need this summer, Bethenny said that she is now paying it forward in her disaster relief work. “People are suffering way more than I am,” she said. “People have helped me get through my despair with their love and inspiration and now it is my turn.”
Dennis was one of Bethenny's biggest supporters of her disaster relief efforts, which began last year when she organized aid for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. “He embraced and applauded everything I did and cheered me on from the sidelines,” Bethenny told PEOPLE.
Hurricane Florence has passed through the Carolinas, but flooding, road closures, and power outages are still plaguing the residents of the region. That's where Bethenny's B Strong charity organization comes in. She told PEOPLE that her team is currently on the ground, and they're figuring out where to land a plane loaded with supplies. Bethenny also told PEOPLE that she would be bringing her 8-year-old daughter Bryn, who also raised relief money with her classmates, to help on the ground in North Carolina.
In addition to keeping fans updated on her disaster relief efforts on Twitter, Bethenny has also been thanking all of the celebrities who have helped with the cause, including Luann de Lesseps, Erika Girardi, Lisa Rinna, Christina Aguilera, and Kelly Ripa. Together they have raised about $125,000, Bethenny told PEOPLE.