- REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Since the start of 2017, there have been 13 named Atlantic storms, making this year’s hurricane season unusually active. In just the past four weeks, three major hurricanes ravaged the Caribbean and the United States Gulf Coast.
First came Harvey, which killed approximately 83 people, destroyed or damaged over 100,000 homes, flooded neighborhoods, and displaced over 30,000 in Texas and Louisiana. Then Irma hit Florida and several Caribbean islands, knocking out power, leaving thousands homeless, and killing at least 41 people.
Maria followed, ripping through Puerto Rico and Dominica and killing at least 17 people. The Category 3 storm, which was approaching the Turks and Caicos islands on Friday, has brought torrential downpours and powerful winds that have uprooted trees, demolished homes, and inundated roads on several Caribbean islands.
In Puerto Rico, tens of thousands of people started evacuating the island Saturday morning, after a failed dam cascaded floodwater throughout city streets and knocked out 85% of phone and internet cables. The Associated Press reports that dozens of mayors are arriving to meet with the Puerto Rico’s governor, as officials plead for supplies.
Jose Sanchez Gonzalez, the mayor of the north coastal town of Manati, told The AP Saturday that he needs basic resources, including water, ice, and gas immediately. Hysteria is starting to spread, because the hospital is at capacity and people are going to start dying.
You might be wondering how to help.
According to The Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI), which is part of the US Agency for International Development, donating money is almost almost the best way to give aid. Before donating material goods (like blankets, food, or toys), CIDI recommends confirming with relief organizations there is an actual need for them.
If you want to assist in person, nonprofits both international and local are looking for volunteers.
Reputable, local charity organizations to donate to after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria are listed below, followed by larger nonprofits that operate on a national or global scale.
Note: It is not clear whether all these organizations will spend 100% of donations received on hurricane relief and associated expenses. But in past large-scale disasters, they have given high percentages of donations directly to victims, especially if there is a specific fund set up. To avoid scams, it’s always good to research a group before donating by checking scores from independents groups like Charity Navigator and Charity Watch.
Hurricanes Maria and Irma: Local organizations in Puerto Rico
ConPRmetidos, a Puerto Rican organization, is hoping to raise $150,000 for relief and recovery after Maria and Irma.
The Fondos Unidos de Puerto Ricois working with the Red Cross and United Way on relief efforts, including an emergency hotline service. It was started by Beatriz Rosselló, the first lady of Puerto Rico.
GoFundMe, a crowdfunding site, a list of verified campaigns collecting donations for victims of the storms.
The following groups are raising money to rebuild homes and infrastructure, as well as give food, medical supplies, clothing, and social services to Maria and Irma victims: ConnectRelief, Hurricane Maria Recovery Fund, Taller Salud, Unidos Por Puerto Rico, and the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund.
If you have additional recommendations of local relief funds or organizations for hurricane-affected areas, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hurricane Maria and Irma: Local organizations in the Caribbean
- Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico
The government of Dominica is collecting donations for the Dominica Hurricane Relief Fund through JustGiving, a crowdfunding website. The funds will go toward temporary roofing, blankets and non-perishable foods.
The British Virgin Islands launched the BVI Recovery Fundthat will help provide food, clothing, and housing for those affected by Irma.
The Virgin Group, the conglomerate founded by Richard Brandson, launched the Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan for the British Virgin Islandsthat will address a range of community needs. 100% of the proceeds will go to Irma victims.
The Friends of Caritas Cubawill focus on relief efforts for children (including those with disabilities), the elderly, and those living with HIV/AIDS.
Anguilla Beaches started a disaster fund that’s raising money for emergency supplies. The money will be given to the local Anguilla Red Cross chapter to carry out these efforts.
Hurricane Irma: Local organizations in Florida
- United Way of Miami-Dade
Volunteer Floridahas an open call for volunteers and donations.
TheNeighborhood Health Clinicis addressing storm victims’ medical needs.
The Gulf Coast Community Foundation established a disaster relief fund that will support immediate relief and long-term recovery efforts to rebuild the region.
The Habitat for Humanity of Key West and the Lower Florida Keys is working to rebuild destroyed homes.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade is accepting donations of items and money. The nonprofit has requested water, bug spray, baby products, hygiene products, non-perishable food that’s easy to open, and pre-sorted clothing for children and teenagers. Supplies can be donated through its Amazon wish-list.
Place of Hope, based in Palm Beach Gardens, provides family-style foster care for abused children. The nonprofit hopes to repair some of its facilities damaged by Irma.
Hurricane Harvey: Local organizations in Texas
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
The Greater Houston Community Fund, established by Mayor Sylvester Turner, will provide a broad range of relief efforts related to food, housing, and health.
United Way of Greater Houston has instituted a 24-7 helpline, which provides information to victims about how to access food, shelter, and supplies. The nonprofit is also working with social service providers to address community needs.
The following food banks are collecting items, as well as monetary donations, for Harvey victims: Houston Food Bank, Galveston Food Bank, Coastal Bend Food Bank in Corpus Christi, San Antonio Food Bank, Feeding Texas. It’s best to call them to ask what they need before bringing food items.
The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County has created a disaster recovery shelter transition housing program to help displaced families.
The Houston chapter of Habitat for Humanity is working to rebuild destroyed homes.
The L.G.B.T.Q. Disaster Relief Fund is supporting individuals and families by providing counseling, case management, shelf-stable food, furniture, housing, and more. Its team has also been on call to assist homeless youth, seniors, HIV-positive people devastated by the storm.
Dedicated to people with disabilities, Portlight Strategies is aiding storm victims find medical equipment, housing, and addressing other needs they might have.
Hurricane Harvey: Local organizations in Louisiana
- Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank
Covenant House New Orleans is offering food, emergency shelter, clothing, medical attention, and housing solutions to families and kids.
The United Way of Central Louisiana is working with social service providers to address community needs.
The Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, and the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana Inc are collecting food items and monetary donations for Harvey victims. It’s best to call and ask what they need.
National and global organizations providing disaster relief to hurricane victims
Oxfam, an international nonprofit, is focusing its relief efforts on the Caribbean islands that Irma devastated.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy, based in Washington, DC, is providing immediate relief to hurricane survivors, offering temporary shelter, food, and water. It will also work to assist with long-term efforts (like rebuilding homes, businesses, and infrastructure), support those with mental health needs, and boost damaged agricultural sectors.
Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization based in North Carolina, is partnering with local nonprofits and churches in Texas and Florida. Currently, it has nine response bases to aid Harvey and Irma victims, and is asking for monetary donations.
All Hands Volunteers is sending an immediate response team to the US Virgin Islands.
Convoy of Hope, a poverty-focused group, is sending meals to Haiti.
Americares,a national health nonprofit, is issuing emergency medical supplies and other basic resources to first responders and victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.