How to Help Hurricane Irma Victims

While Hurricane Irma lost strength as it entered Florida, many communities still took a lot of damage — and in parts of the Caribbean, including U.S. protectorates Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the storm had a serious impact. If you’re reading terrifying stories and wondering how you can help, we’ve rounded up some options for you.

As a general rule, in disaster recovery, people need cash, more than supplies, or in-kind donations. Transporting, storing, sorting and distributing supplies can eat up a lot of resources, while cash keeps organizations flexible, allowing them to negotiate bargains for bulk purchases of supplies when and where they need them.

But if you don’t have a lot of cash, don’t feel useless!

Consider asking if your employer does charitable matching, so you can increase the value of your donation. Or use your skills to other ends, like running a fundraiser. Online auctions have been a great low-overhead way to raise money.

Hurricane victims in Anguilla

Photo credit: DFID

How to Help in the Caribbean

We’re still learning about the scope of destruction caused as Irma churned over Barbuda, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Anguilla, Antigua and Puerto Rico. Many of these nations have developing economies with limited resources, and the hurricane dealt out substantial damage.

Here are some groups helping with hurricane recovery in the short and long term in the Caribbean — some are also helping in Florida:

How to Help in Florida

Even a weakened hurricane can cause severe destruction and flooding, and parts of Florida have a long road ahead. Fortunately, a number of U.S.-based and international organizations are stepping in to help.

Like volunteering? Habitat for Humanity is running a hurricane recovery registry to collect information from people who are ready to volunteer once conditions are safe to rebuild. You can also register with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to get matched with opportunities in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Love animals? As with Hurricane Harvey, animal welfare organizations evacuated animals from Florida shelters to make room for evacuee pets that needed emergency housing. If your shelter accepted evacuated cats and dogs who were up for adoption before the hurricane, consider fostering or adopting.

Like direct contributions? GoFundMe has set up a clearinghouse of Irma-related fundraisers, but be aware that the company cannot vouch for the validity of every campaign on the site.

Curious about why the Red Cross isn’t listed? ProPublica and NPR have documented extensive problems with how the Red Cross handles charitable contributions alongside the organization’s lack of transparency.

Photo credit: United States Navy

38 comments

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill10 days ago

We give our money to Operation Blessing. They always receive high praise for their excellent work. During Katina, FEMA asked them for pointers as to how to be more efficient. They always stay until the need has been completely met.

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I2 months ago

Noted - Petition signed! Thanks

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Cruel J
Cruel J2 months ago

Irma's eye was directly over my house.

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David F
David F2 months ago

If the federal government is going to jump in and fix everything every time, then why do we have States?

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Ingrid H
Ingrid H2 months ago

thank you for this

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Renata Kovacs
Renata Kovacs2 months ago

Kind and thoughtful sharing Thank you..

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry K2 months ago

Many thanks to you !

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Margie FOURIE
Margie F2 months ago

Thank you

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Danuta W
Danuta W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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