As record-breaking Hurricane Irma swept north — as a reclassified tropical storm — to Tampa Bay and even parts of Georgia and South Carolina Monday, the residents of Cuba, the Caribbean, the Florida Keys and southern Florida started to assess the damage.
Millions have been left without power in Florida, buildings have splintered into piles of debris, and cities have been flooded with water. Many of the residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands have had to resort to social media to get information and smaller Caribbean islands barely have time to catch their breath as Hurricane Jose approaches.
Fortunately, the global community is on high alert, and NGOs and corporations alike are gathering resources to help with storm relief.
The website of the Red Cross went down Monday morning, and there were reports on Twitter that the phone lines were overwhelmed, too. But there are tons of other great organizations that need your help, too.
Here’s how you can assist with relief efforts, from first responder assistance to long-term rebuilding.
Global Giving works internationally with local nonprofits to send aid where it’s needed most. They collect one time or monthly donations in a general relief fund, and then distribute it to different organizations as the orgs on the ground communicate their changing needs. You can give to their Irma fund here.
UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, is focusing on distributing aid to vulnerable families and children.
They have pre-positioned aid throughout the Caribbean and Florida, and are distributing it to the millions of children who they fear will be some of the worst impacted by the storm. To aid with their disaster response, you can donate to ensure their supplies remain stocked, and disaster relief teams staffed.
A new organization is taking on the challenge of getting help to people with disabilities during disaster relief. The Partnership for inclusive disaster strategies ensures that those with mental illness, physical disabilities, and shelter needs receive the help they need. They have been active in helping with Harvey relief, and are continuing to collect funds for their organization in the wake of Irma. You can donate here.
Right to the City
In a message to supporters, the Right to the City coalition stressed that “as devastating as these natural disasters are, the greatest devastation is man made.” Man-made climate change has intensified storms at unprecedented levels, and low-income communities and people of color continue to be disproportionately affected by extreme weather events, the organization says.
Furry friends and wildlife in the path of the storm need your help, too. As humans evacuate, many pets are often left behind without shelter or care. These organizations are ready to assist animals affected by Irma’s devastation.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: The ASPCA has already transported hundreds of animals out of Irma’s path. They have set up an emergency shelter in South Carolina and have responders on the ground in Florida assisting local authorities during the storm. All donations to go to the ASPCA’s Field Investigation and Response Fund.
Best Friends Animal Society: This national animal welfare organization has a page dedicated to locating and reporting missing pets and providing resources to pet owners in Irma-affected areas. You can donate to and volunteer to help with their pet rescue efforts.
South Florida Wildlife Center: Due to the extreme storm conditions, the Fort Lauderdale-based wildlife center closed its doors on Friday and anticipates re-opening on Wednesday. They have a rescue advice page with tips for anyone who might come across orphaned or injured animals in Irma’s wake. You can donate to the center to support their efforts to care for southern Florida’s wildlife.
The agency is concerned primarily with providing humanitarian aid to the people of Haiti and helping them recover before the country’s most vital harvest season later in the fall. You can donate to Mercy Corps’s Humanitarian Response Fund to support their disaster response work.
Catholic Relief Services is dedicated to assessing the damage done to the people of the Caribbean, especially the smaller islands leveled by Irma. They are working to provide disaster relief items and assist with evacuations in the face of more storms. They are accepting donations to fund their Irma relief and Jose preparation efforts.
Oxfam has worked in the Caribbean for over 30 years and supports a local network that provides safe water and sanitation for vulnerable citizens. The international confederation of NGOs will continue to support Caribbean communities and to monitor conditions in South Florida. All funds donated to Hurricane Irma and Jose relief will go toward relief and recovery in the affected areas.
The faith-based non-profit has sent both supplies and response teams to the Caribbean region and Florida. They work with local partners and agencies to provide relief and hope to the affected people. You can donate to support their ongoing work in the British Virgin Islands.
Just as it has supported children and families affected by Hurricane Harvey, Save the Children is working to provide relief in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as in areas affected in the U.S.
They set up Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in emergency shelters to provide kids with a safe environment to play while their parents take care of their families’ recovery needs.
You can donate online or text IRMA to 20222 to donate $10 to Save the Children’s Hurricane Irma Relief Fund.
People are using Facebook’s Community Help feature to offer and request help for volunteer work, shelter, clothing, water, and other assistance. You can view these requests here.
GoFundMe has established a centralized hub for all Hurricane Irma relief campaigns. Donors can also make a tax-deductible donation to the Direct Impact Fund, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit that partners with GoFundMe to support verified campaigns.
If you are located near affected areas and are able to help, you can register with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and Volunteer Florida to find out where you’re needed most.
You can also volunteer with the Red Cross, which is offering training and needs volunteers in Red Cross shelters.