One catastrophic, category 4 hurricane over the course of a few weeks is devastating enough, but two is practically unthinkable. Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm, formed on August 17 and wreaked havoc throughout Texas and Louisiana until dissipating on September 3. Hurricane Irma followed just weeks later, while the nation was still recovering from Harvey, striking the Caribbean and parts of Southern Florida. Irma is being classified as a category 5, and has earned the status of being the most destructive Atlantic hurricane to strike the United States since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Both storms caused widespread death and destruction.
If you were not directly impacted by the hurricanes and don’t have any friends or family members who were affected, it can be easy to feel removed from all the chaos. However, it is imperative, in times of crisis, that the nation bands together and people offer their fellow countrymen support. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a hurricane victim and imagine losing everything- your home, your possessions, your pets, maybe even a friend or family member. If you feel like you want to offer your support but don’t know how, read on- there are plenty of ways to lend a helping hand even if you don’t live in or near the paths of destruction. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Volunteer with the Red Cross
The American Red Cross is always in need of volunteers, especially in times of major disaster relief. You can visit their website to learn more about how you can offer support for either Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma relief. According to the website, 90% of the Red Cross workforce consists of volunteers. The Red Cross has an application process for all their volunteers, and while they are no longer accepting applications for Hurricane Harvey relief, they are still in need of volunteers for Hurricane Irma relief efforts. The support of dedicated volunteers is essential for recovery and rebuilding- if you’re even considering volunteering, it’s worth visiting their website today to learn more about how you can help.
Although the Red Cross is the most popular and wellknown of disaster relief organizations in the United States, there are plenty of other organizations supporting the cause that you can volunteer with as well, such as Volunteer Florida, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, and the Salvation Army. You can even open your home to an evacuated family in need through Airbnb. There are so many ways to get involved- don’t rule out local charities and fundraising events either!
Make a monetary donation
If you don’t live near a disaster site and don’t have the means to contribute your time and labor to relief efforts, you can still make a substantial contribution with a monetary donation, no matter how large or small. You can make a donation through the Red Cross or through another nonprofit supporting hurricane relief, such as Americares, Global Giving, and animal welfare organizations such as the ASPCA.
You don’t even have to give your time or money to make a meaningful difference with hurricane relief. There is always a need for emergency supplies after a major natural disaster, so consider stopping by a collection center or where you can contribute supplies such as water bottles, diapers, food, and medicine.
You can find out more about all of the organizations mentioned above, and how you can get involved, by visiting Fast Company’s article on 14 ways you can help storm victims. If you want to make a difference, don’t let your location or financial situation be a barrier. Every little bit makes a difference in times of crisis.