How We Can Help Irma Victims

 

by Nick Taylor

Generosity’s in high demand these days and you may wonder how we can help Irma victims now that the storm left a path of destruction in her wake.

Hurricane-irma-goes-floater-rainbow-courtesy wickimedia

No sooner did Texans flooded by Hurricane Harvey’s epic rains start drying out than Hurricane Irma sprinted across the Caribbean and up the Florida peninsula.  Together the two storms have caused damage estimated in the range of $200 billion, and that’s just in the U.S.

As usual, individuals, families and small businesses were hit the hardest. Some people in the Florida Keys won’t be able to go home for days, if at all, and may not have water or electricity for weeks. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says 25 percent of the homes in the Keys were destroyed in the storm and virtually all suffered some damage. Jacksonville suffered major flooding and also faces a long recovery. So do other parts of mainland Florida.

Hurricane-irma-approaches-San-Juan-airforce-photo-by-staff-sgt-Douglas-Ellis

Irma wrecked the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas and St. John, St. Martin, a French protectorate, and British protectorates including Barbuda, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands. Looters ravaged broken store fronts and carried away ATM machines. Survivors slept in shifts to keep from being robbed. Store shelves emptied. Food and water were impossible to find and evacuation ships didn’t arrive until this week.  

hurricane-irma-damage-St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Air Force photo by Capt. Lauren Hill

Air Force photo by Capt. Lauren Hill

 

Meanwhile, flooded Gulf Coast homes in Texas have sprouted mold and disease from unclean water. 

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf

An economic recovery will accompany the rebuilding after these twin disasters, but it’s a long time in the future. For the time being, people need help with the basics of life.

So we, like others, wonder who to call and how we can help Irma victims.

The United Way, for example, tell us that in areas hit by Hurricane Irma 2-1-1 is operational across all affected areas: “If someone you know needs help, they can call 2-1-1, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There may be a wait, but calls will be answered. In case of emergency, dial 9-1-1.

You can also text “Irma” to 898-211, or visit www.211.org to find your local provider and more information.

“2-1-1 is a free, confidential service that connects people from all communities to essential health and human services—24 hours a day, seven days a week. 2-1-1 will remain open and ready to provide local information about shelters, food and water, health resources, and other needs related to hurricane recovery or anything else,” a United Way spokesperson said.

The United Way also has created the United Way Irma Recovery Fund to help Florida and Caribbean communities put themselves back together in hurricane’s aftermath.

You can also donate to the Irma Caribbean Strong Relief Fund.

A San Antonio TV station, KENS5, moved by the outpouring of support for Texas during Harvey’s worst days, has put together a list of organizations helping the Irma recovery effort.

The Miami Foundation compiled a list of national and local agencies working throughout Florida in the wake of the storm that can use your contributions. Here’s what they suggest.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation is partnering with United Way to support Hurricane Irma victims in Southwest Florida. Donations can be general or designated to one of the following counties: Lee, Hendry, Glades, Charlotte or Collier Counties.

Click here to donate or text GIVESWFL to 444999.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation has established a disaster fund focused on making the region habitable again so residents can resume their daily lives. Click here to donate.

Catholic Relief Services is working with their partners in the smaller Caribbean islands to help with Hurricane Irma relief efforts and prepare for Hurricane Jose. Click here to donate

Feeding South Florida runs a disaster relief program, assisting evacuees from South Florida and surrounding counties. Click here to learn more about their efforts, and click here to donate. 

Goodwill of South Florida’s donation centers will receive clothing and household item donations. Click here to find a center near you. 

The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and United Way of Miami-Dade are partnering with local nonprofits to support immediate and long-term recovery needs. Click here to donate.

The New Florida Majority is recruiting volunteers in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Click here for more information and to sign up. 

The Red Cross is recruiting volunteers to help Hurricane Irma victims.  Click here to learn more. 

United Way of Miami-Dade is recruiting volunteers for the county and United Way’s partner agencies. Click here to volunteer. 

Corporations big and small have also ponied up donations to help bring life in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean back to normal after the latest blows from Mother Nature. 

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