After tearing through the Caribbean and leaving the island of Barbuda in ruin, Hurricane Irma set its sights on Florida. More than 6.3 million Floridians had been ordered to evacuate before the storm. As Irma loses steam and dies out, thousands of people are now dealing with the reality of having to start over.
Here's how you can help individuals and communities in need.
Put Your Dollars to Work
Numerous organizations are already on the ground assisting families and local communities impacted by the hurricane. But these organizations need all the help they can get.
Donations can go a long way in helping these groups get the funds and supplies they need to aid in recovery. There are several organizations that are working hard to help:
- Feeding Florida is working with local food backs to feed those who are in need.
- UNICEF USA is on the ground, helping with water treatment and hygiene in the Caribbean.
- Americares is partnering with healthcare facilities in Florida to provide medical assistance.
- GoFundMe has set up a dedicated page for Irma victims.
- The Salvation Army has established emergency shelters.
- GlobalGiving is raising money to provide food, medicine and water to Irma survivors.
- The South Florida Wildlife Center and Best Friends Animal Society are helping the non-human victims of the hurricane.
Volunteer Your Time
Several organizations are looking for volunteers to help with the rescue and recovery process in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Groups looking for volunteers include:
- The Red Cross. Volunteers must have a valid driver's license, be able to be deployed for 14 days, pass a background check and complete an online intake process.
- National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasteris looking for volunteers for Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
- Volunteer Florida is looking for volunteers who can work in emergency shelters and disaster relief organizations.
- Habitat for Humanity has set up a Hurricane Recovery Volunteer Registry, and is looking for volunteers to aid in the rebuilding process. The organization is also accepting donations to aid in the disaster response.
- Airbnb is also looking for property owners to donate their accommodations for displaced families.
While some groups are not accepting volunteers at this moment in time, they will be needing help in the coming months and years. Relief efforts will be ongoing for the foreseeable future, so help will be needed in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Many charities and organizations are accepting donations of supplies, including food, water, medical supplies and other much-needed items.
- The Diaper Bank of Central Florida is looking for donations of pull ups and diapers of all sizes and brands.
- Local food banks are accepting food donations.
Officials are warning to be careful of where you donate and to do your research to make sure that you give to a reputable organization. Financial donations are often preferred because it allows organizations to cater to the needs of individual families. Supplies, they say, often go to waste because organizations are given more than what they need.