Hurricanes, once seemingly rare and terrifying weather episodes, are becoming increasingly common—and close to home for many Americans, some of whom have been spared the worst of these natural disasters until the last decade or so, when Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy leveled major East Coast cities and devastated countless homes and families. Driving the truth of global warming home, in the last month we’ve experienced three back-to-back hurricanes impacting the U.S. and its territories.
In some places, like with Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the worst danger has passed, and efforts towards relief and rebuilding have begun. In other locations, like with Hurricane Irma in Florida, the storm is happening now, and there are already warnings of a new storm (Hurricane Jose) en route.
While the seriousness of each storm varies, there’s always the potential for hurricanes to pack a devastating wallop—as evidenced by the residents of Houston victimized by Harvey, many of whom lost their homes, belongings, and some barely escaped with their lives (while others, tragically, haven’t been so lucky). While none of us can make the flooding, rains, and winds stop any sooner—there are some ways you can help, if you’re fortunate enough to live in a location where you’re safe and sound from the elements.
Here are five quick, easy ways to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma—and inspiration for quick ways to help when Jose or another storm hits.
Harvey: Donate to the Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donating to Salvation Army’s just as simple—visit their site and follow the instructions.
Irma: While the Red Cross is at capacity for receiving volunteers to help with Harvey relief efforts, their need for volunteers to help with Irma right now is “tremendous.” Other options: You can sign up to volunteer on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster site; the state-run Volunteer Florida organization is coordinating volunteer efforts; and NOVAD—an association of organizations that help mitigate the impact of disasters—also needs volunteers in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands: Register here.
Find Homes for the Displaced
Irma: Airbnb is looking for property owners to offer free accommodations to families displaced by Hurricane Irma.
Irma and Harvey: Not only are people injured as a result of the hurricane, but there are also people who would have otherwise donated blood who won’t be able to this week (or longer) because life—and nature—is getting in the way. This is a crucial time to donate blood if you can, and it applies to all storms, and all reasons, at all times. The most pressing need this week is to make up for the blood centers temporarily closed or displaced. OneBlood, who has blood centers in Florida, has an urgent call for blood donors across the U.S. Blood donations have been suspended in Florida temporarily because of the storm, so donate anywhere you can.
If you’re displaced from your home, there’s only so much you can carry with you. Texas Diaper Bank is desperately seeking cash and diaper donations so they can share emergency diapers with families. Get more info and find ways to help here.
Or, rather, money for food. Food banks in the area can really use some cash, because they’re assisting a lot of people who are hungry. The Houston Food Bank, Galveston County Food Bank, and Corpus Christi Food Bank all accept online donations, and that money will go directly toward feeding displaced families.
Help the Kids
Harvey and Irma: UNICEF is providing emergency relief and will help children affected by the hurricane resume their education in the coming months.
Get a Puppy (Yes, Really)
Harvey: There were a lot of pets displaced by the storm, and unfortunately, if they get stuck in shelters for too long, they may not survive. If you can foster a cat or dog (Austin’s no-kill shelter has guidelines), that will give them a home, until or if they’re returned to their owner. If you can’t, you can also donate money or supplies because animal shelters are way are over capacity right now.
Irma: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Best Friends Animal Society and the South Florida Wildlife Center are all operating relief efforts. SPCA International provides support to shelters and rescue groups working with animals affected by natural disasters.
Originally posted on August 28, 2017. Updated on September 11, 2017.