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  • Banding Together: How You Can Help Hurricane Recovery

    September 13, 2017 by Katelyn Dramis

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    In the last three weeks, we’ve seen multiple devastating hurricanes causing widespread damage and destruction throughout the Caribbean and the United States.

    First, there was Harvey, which hit the eastern Caribbean as a tropical storm, and then caused catastrophic flooding in Texas and Louisiana.

    Then came Irma, a Category 5 hurricane that has caused massive destruction to several Caribbean islands. John Obbagy, a villa manager on St. John told CNN, “About 80 percent of all structures, not just homes, have either suffered severe damage or are destroyed.”

    Irma has also inflicted massive damage to Florida — FEMA estimates 25% of the homes in the Florida Keys have been destroyed, and another 65% have major damage — and the Southeast, with more than 6.6 million customers without power across the area, according to CNN. Even here in Atlanta, we experienced tropical storm-force winds, causing downed trees and power outages.

    Now, the people are bracing for José, which could travel to the Bahamas and the East Coast.

    It’s easy to feel dejected when you read about the devastation these natural disasters have and are causing. But what I try to focus on are the rays of hope — the stories of people banding together to save neighbors, friends, animals, and even perfect strangers.

    Now, more than ever, is the time to unite together and lend our aid. If you’re looking to help those whose lives have been changed by these terrible storms, here are a few ways you can get involved.

    How to Help Hurricane Victims:

    One of the easiest ways to help victims of these disasters is to donate money. Be sure you vet organizations before donating to ensure your funds are going toward recovery efforts specifically.

    GlobalGiving is accepting donations to provide relief to survivors and longer-term assistance with recovery in the US and Caribbean for Hurricane Irma. GlobalGiving is a trustworthy organization (it is well-rated by Charity Navigator) that vets the local organizations it funds.

    Its Irma page states all funds will support recovery and relief efforts for Hurricane Irma, focusing first on helping first responders meet survivors’ needs for essential survival materials, like food, fuel, clean water, shelter, etc. The fund will then transition to support longer-term recovery efforts run by local organizations.

    Another organization, Oxfam, is aiding recovery efforts specifically in the Caribbean by helping people get access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene specifically in villages in northern Haiti to prevent disease spread. You can donate to their cause here.

    For Hurricane Harvey, Charity Navigator lists several organizations that are in need of donations, from the Houston SPCA to the Food Bank of Corpus Christi. You can also donate via the Red Cross, GlobalGiving, and United Way of Greater Houston — all of which are supporting survival and recovery efforts for those affected by the disastrous flooding caused by Harvey.

    Aside from monetary donations, food and clothing are desperately needed for hurricane victims who have lost everything to the storm. Organizations such as Feeding Texas and the Texas Diaper Bank have information on how to donate specific items they are in need of. You can also make monetary donations to these organizations as well.

    The road to recovery is going to be long — and for some areas that are keeping a watchful eye on upcoming storms, it may not have even started yet. But I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful because there are amazing people out there, people like you, who stand ready to get involved and lend the help that is so desperately needed. And to me, that is the light that shines through the storm.

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